How To Impact Students: 10 Lessons From Summer Camp


My 11-year old daughter Anna spent this last week at Fellowship Bible Church’s summer camp.  Think Vacation Bible School on steroids!  It had an unbelievable impact on her life.  As I sat down and talked with her about the previous five days, it struck me that the strategies and leadership principles exhibited at the camp could be applied at any level of a church or organization.  Here are the key findings I wanted to share with you:

  1. Clear Purpose – The theme for the week was “Heroes” with its central message being that Jesus Christ is our hero.  The message was clear.  It was repeatable and compelling.  It stuck with my daughter.  What are people stuck with when they leave your church or organization each week?
  2. Biblical Foundation – Every activity that took place was rooted in a biblical principle.  One thing various movements of the last decade has taught us is that anything that doesn’t have a biblical foundation is unsustainable.
  3. Creativity – The Bible was taught in fun and creative ways.  For example, during her daily cooking class, every food that was prepared had an associated story showing where that food was in the Bible.  A calendar was created in the stamping class with each month having a specific verse selected for that individual month.  How have you recently communicated a timeless truth in a new, creative manner?
  4. First Impressions – All teachers and their assistants were incredibly welcoming each day.  Within three minutes of entering a facility, people already know if they’re coming back or not.
  5. Relational Intentionality – Lunch was designed so that it forced the deepening of relationships amongst the students.  Are you intentionally creating environments for people to connect?
  6. Multi-generational Involvement – Older adults and “teen helpers” were enlisted to serve the students.  Our church is intentional about training high school students to be leaders.  Watching these students and their impact on younger children like my daughter excites me about the next generation like nothing else.
  7. Takeaways – My daughter made and brought home a cookbook, a calendar, and a passion for Jesus Christ that was tangible.  Make sure that each week, everyone can take something useful home from your church.
  8. Generosity – As part of her stationary activities, they made cards that were to be given to other people.  As her teacher stated, “When you give someone a handwritten card, you give people God’s love.”  Well said.
  9. Service – On the final day of cooking class, my daughter cut up 45 vegetable slices gladly (now that’s impacting students)!  Also, she got to perform musically for the other students.  I love ministries that purposefully train their people to serve others.
  10. Everyone Matters – The thing that impressed me the most was one day my daughter was serving another area when it came time to make cookies.  The teacher said “Let’s wait for Anna, it’s all-for-1 and 1-for-all!”  That would have been done for every child in the class if needed.  This was the culture.  I want to be in environments like that.

As a leader, I learned much from my daughter today about how to do ministry and serve people.  What are your takeaways from this article?

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About Brian Dodd on Leadership

I am a church stewardship and leadership consultant for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. This blog combines my personal passions of church, sports, pop culture and family into a single leadership resource. I trust your time on this site will create conversations and add value to your life.

4 Responses to “How To Impact Students: 10 Lessons From Summer Camp”

  1. Keely Patterson Reply 07/27/2010 at 6:29 PM

    Thank you for this! I was your daughters homebase teacher. I love helping with celebrate summer each year but this made it even better to know that not only can we impact your child and others like her but their whole family through a week of fun and talking about Jesus.

    • Keely,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. Anna had a great week at Celebrate Summer and you were a big part of that! You will never know how much people like you mean to Sonya and I. I hope you were blessed by the post.

      Thank you again for the investment you are making into the lives of children like my daughter.


  2. Lifehackersha RT @BrianKDodd: How To Impact Students: Lessons From Summer Camp: #leadership #strategy

  3. qadvocate RT @BrianKDodd: How To Impact Students: Lessons From Summer Camp: #leadership

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