Camp prep during a pandemic is nothing any of us has faced before. But despite the unfamiliarity of this situation, we serve a familiar and faithful God, and working in camps for the years has taught us a lot about how to keep momentum moving forward no matter the circumstances.
We’d like to share a few of our top recommendations for planning camp remotely and keeping both your campers and their parents prepared and excited for summer.
Your church’s website is the hub for parents for many camp details, youth schedules, and more. Updating your most official platform should be step one of keeping your campers in the loop.
Start with hope. Clearly communicate that your camp week WILL happen as long as stay-at-home orders are lifted 15 days in advance of your arrival at Crowders Ridge! We’re still planning camp and praying for campers, so keep them encouraged with hope for summer.
Next, build an online registration form so your campers can sign up for camp or even fill out any of your church’s required paperwork remotely. This will give you necessary information about which of your campers are planning to attend, which ones may need a little nudge to get their paperwork lined up, and which ones may need some one-on-one encouragement about their summer plans.
Finally, allow campers to register without paying a deposit. Encourage full participation and preparation by waving deposit fees until stay-at-home orders are lifted.
#2: Social Media
It’s been a hard spring for our entire nation. During this difficult season, summer camp has never sounded more exciting! We all need reminders that before long, gatherings, games, handshakes, and hugs will be the norm once again. Give your campers something to look forward to through regular social media posts about summer camp. Reminisce with your group about their best summer 2019 Crowders Ridge memories, and find out what they’re excited for in summer 2020.
Partner with your students’ parents in pursuing camp! Regular emails to camper parents can help calm fears, clarify plans, and keep the paperwork moving smoothly.
Explain Crowders Ridge’s COVID-19 plan to your parents, available at https://crowderscamps.com/camp-updates/. For those who haven’t seen this information on your church website or ours, this personal notification can help parents who may be wondering about the status of camp.
Let your parents know that our staff is working within state guidelines to safely prepare for camp and build a plan for additional sanitization protocols for summer. We love our campers and are preparing for them to grow spiritually, emotionally, and socially during their time with us!
Give parents a clear sense of direction. COVID-19 has been changing most people’s plans and lives on a daily basis, so establishing a clear game plan can provide some calm and stability. Present parents with an updated timeline of due dates, such as when registration forms and payments are due now based on stay-at-home orders.
#4: Zoom Meetings
Whether it’s Zoom, Google Hangouts, or a variety of other online meeting apps, many youth groups have adapted to virtually meeting with students. Make sure to include camp reminders in your meetings! When meeting, provide your students with camp registration links in the chat and encourage them to sign up immediately following your group meeting.
#5: Snail Mail
It can take a lot to catch the attention of every camper in your group. Send a note in the mail to your campers who are a little behind the curve with their camp planning. Try mailing a pre-registration card, a physical registration form, or even a camp paperwork timeline. Personal notes will help make your camp updates stand out to campers.
#6: The Land Line
Give a phone call to campers who haven’t signed up yet. Did a camper attend Crowders Ridge for the past three years but this year he’s not said a word? Call and check in. Find out why your camper may have hesitated to register. Are they worried about camp not happening? Are they struggling because of social distancing? Is their family struggling with layoffs and financial worries? Your students’ reaction to camp could reveal ministry opportunities for you as a leader during this time.
#7: Delay Deposits
During this incredibly unfamiliar time, the key to camp sign-ups will be to delay registration deposits. This goes back to point one and how you structure camp information on your website. You still need to know who is attending camp, but you may not get that information if you require payment with registrations. Keep planning moving with online registration, but delay payments until parents can feel sure of what will happen.
Keep the hope of summer camp alive for your students through videos on your social media and website. Camp update videos or even a funny camp promo skit could not only get campers’ minds off the virus, but bring hope for the day when life becomes a little more normal.
#9: Parent Connection
In addition to website information and email updates, use all channels available to you to make your parents the most educated people in the camp process. Campers need to be excited about camp; parents need to be informed. Text or call parents as needed with reminders and encouragement. Providing hope for parents is providing hope for your students.
#10: Shareable Graphics
Blow up social media with camp excitement using our shareable graphics! You can find these on our camp update page, https://crowderscamps.com/camp-updates/. Ask your students to share these on their own social media to provide camp info and encouragement with their friends and fellow campers.
God has plans for your students
We don’t yet know the details of when this quarantine will end, or exactly what the world will look like when it does. We do know that the Gospel is unhindered by human circumstances, and God has plans for each of our students, parents, campers, and ministries. Our prayer along with you is that God would help our world heal quickly, and that we would be able to minister in person again very quickly.
You are in our hearts and we trust we will see you again soon here at camp!