Many traditional churches offer week-long day camps during the summer as part of their ministry with children. We are planning one the last week of the summer and our recreation department has a slew of great ones. I wanted to offer a very intentionally memorable faith-formation experience, developmentally appropriate for kids k-2nd and 3rd-5th, in partnership with another church because ‘we’re better together’, and take kids outside where Jesus likely spent most of his growing up years.
Logistically, the trips are scheduled 9am-2pm. Kids brown-bag their own lunches, wear water shoes, and bring a refillable-water bottle, sunscreen, a towel, an open mind, and a spirit of adventure. Each trip is $20 per student to cover transportation, expenses, destination fees, and chaperone expenses. My colleague from a partnering church and I engage in lots of conversations with the children about the faith-formation theme of the day, then share a Bible lesson about halfway through lunch. Ms. Kate opens a Cluster group for each trip for us all to post photos which parents can see. I even try to send photos to parents/grandparents by text throughout the day or by the end of the day.
K5-2nd graders walked and played in the shaded, shallow creek of a walking trail in nearby Kennesaw, Georgia. We shared the Bible account of Jesus healing the blind man with mud. We had planned to make mud pies after lunch, but a sudden, summer rainstorm had us trekking back early. I packed a first aid kit with plenty of band aids, small orange cones to set some boundaries, we threw rocks, and we played in the creek. The students decorated wooden walking sticks sanded with sand paper (The Home Depot), then decorated the sticks with sharpies and bandannas. A trip to QT for ice cream cones finished out the trip. #jesusandmud
3rd-5th graders walked and played at the beach area of nearby Red Top Mountain where we hired a paddle board company to provide safety teaching and rental paddle boards. The paddle board area was adjacent to a terraced putt-putt course. The partnering church brought a load of putters and we were set to go. Adventure ‘buddies’ and life jackets and the devotion time of Jesus walking on the water. #jesuswalksonwater
K5-5th graders headed to a large local park which included a splash pad, went to the movies about 2 miles away, then returned to the park for lunch at one of the pavilions. This trip required two buses for transportation and half of my bus was sleeping on the return trip back to the church. Incredible means ‘extraordinary’. The only place in the Bible where the word ‘incredible’ is used is Acts 26:8 “Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?” Yep, God raising Jesus from the dead is INCREDIBLE. #jesusisincredible
Upcoming trips include a hike and the interactive historical display at Sweetwater Creek State Park for the olders, 7 Springs Water Park for the littles, a Day at Ms. DeDe’s for the completed 4th & 5th graders called ‘Ambassador Day’ which will be 9am-8pm, and a K5-5th grade trip to the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta which will be a longer day for sure. Ms. Kate and I collaborate weekly on times (she likes staying longer), Bible study, and specific details that will let us build relationship with our chaperones and our kids (I like lingering.)
Ms. Kate calls her trips ‘tours of faith.’ I call mine ‘faith field trips.’ Our families call it ‘a whole lot of fun’ as they continue the conversations at home.
“But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” Jude 20