The goal with Camp Survivor has never been to simply run great camps (which we do!). Rather the goal has always been:
- To connect kids with God
- To serve our community in a meaningful and sacrificial way.
- To develop great young leaders.
With this goal in mind, we have recently undertaken an extensive review and asked how we can be more effective at these three things. We sought feedback from camp families, from the LifeSwitch Community and had conversations with those most invested in Camp Survivor.
As a result of the feedback, the conversations and ongoing prayer, we have identified a few changes we are going to make as we look to the future.
- Is to be able to run four camps in the April holidays each year. A camp each for students in year 5, year 6, year 7 and year 8. This would allow us to really focus on each age group and create a camp experience that builds as the kids get older. It would also allow us to bless up to 600 different kids, and therefore families, per year. We could have a survivor Sunday smack bang in the middle of the two weeks that could easily become one of the most anticipated Sundays in our annual calendar.
- Is to have absolutely remarkable follow up systems in place that make it as easy as possible for those who come to camp to engage with us on a week to week basis thereafter. Our focus across our Next Gen ministries is to develop young leaders worth following and we know we can do that way more effectively when young people engage with us regularly, rather than through a one off camp experience.
- Is to have the leaders at camp commit not to simply lead at camp but to fully buy into the ministry behind camp (Switch Kids & IGGY) and therefore making it super easy for the campers to transition into Switch Kids or IGGY.
The Plan – creating a stepping stone towards the dream
We know we can’t hit the dream next year. In order to achieve the dream we need to develop a lot of resource.
Firstly, we need to raise up a whole lot more leaders and gophers so that we can have four separate teams to use over the two weeks. In doing so, opening up way more opportunities for people and allowing the leaders to really focus on a small amount of kids that they can then continue to walk alongside.
Secondly, we need to establish stronger follow up systems and connection points so we can make it easier for those who come to camp to engage more regularly in our ongoing programmes.
Thirdly, we need to create financial margin to allow us to do the two things above. Therefore, during this transition period we are going to only run Camp Survivor in April and not October. This reduces our expenditure from $80,000 to just over $40,000. Giving us financial margin to make a significant investment into the leadership development and follow up systems.
Fourthly, as we start the new initiatives around leadership development and follow up, we will want to keep them in place as we move forward. As a result, our total expenses when going back to four camps will end up being well above the current $80,000, and probably closer to $110,000.
During the transition stage we will:
- Only run Camp Survivor in April, not October:
This allows us the margin we need both financially and time wise to both raise up more leaders & build much better follow up plans and initiatives.
- Launch a Youth Leadership Camp in October:
This is to help us raise more leaders, and do a better job at supporting and developing leaders.
- Run One Night Experiences in August & September:
In August and September we will be running an overnight experience for all those who came to Camp Survivor in April. We are making these much smaller than Camp Survivor and they are being designed as smaller gatherings to really improve the relationship between the leaders and the campers. As a result we are having to run six separate One Nighters. If your child came to camp, we will be in touch some time in July to let you know when the One Night Experience they have been invited to is happening.
- Push Forward with Initiatives to make it easier for people to engage with our regular programmes:
An example we have already started is the bus to collect kids from local intermediates on a Wednesday and bring them to IGGY. For the first time we have avoided the post camp ‘hump’ effect where we saw IGGY numbers soar for a week or two, then slowly taper back to where they were.
Why Four Camps in April?
- The April Camp Is More Sought After and Effective
We know that there are more people wanting to be part of Camp in April, both from a camper and leader perspective.
We have also found the April camp to be way more effective at connecting with and developing relationships with the campers who come.
- To be very targeted and focused with our camps
By splitting the camps up into yearly age groups, we can run camps that are tailor made for that year group. We can develop a four year curriculum that can be incredibly targeted as we move them through the four year cycle. Programatically, we can also shape each camp differently so the campers always have something new and exciting to look forward to.
Why is the Transition Stage Important?
- We know we can do a more effective job at Raising Leaders
Currently all of our budget is being spent on running camps, leaving very little for us to use to intentionally develop our leaders. While we do a fairly good job we are convinced that with some investment in this space we can do a whole lot better. Yet we know creating that space means we need to find the time and the resources.
- We Know we can do a better job at engaging kids and families post Camp Survivor
Again, we know that to do this well we need to create time and resource. There are so many things we could try and initiatives we could launch into if we had the time and money to do so.
- We need time to develop both the leadership and financial resource necessary
Running four camps over two weeks requires that we use a lot more volunteers than we currently do so building this pool of people is paramount. We also know we can do a much better job on the two things mentioned above, so this stage will allow us really focus on and enhance those.