You’re headed to WyldLife camp and you’re taking some ofyour high school friends as WyldLife leaders. It’s a “win” for your middle school friends because they get to spend time with people just a few years older than them who are excited about following Jesus. It’s a “win” for your high school friends because they get to give their lives away in a fun and practical way.
What can you do to set your high school students up for a great week as leaders?
Set clear expectations
One common struggle for high school leaders is the desire to be a buddy rather than a leader. Help younger leaders understand that you expect them to be leaders, and not only friends – and what that will look like at camp.
Explain middle school kids
They were in middle school not too long ago, but many high school kids may not know the unique characteristics of younger teens. Leaders may want to treat their middle school friends like peers but need to know that will not be effective. One example: many WyldLife kids are concrete thinkers, so sarcasm and teasing can be more harmful than fun.
Practice cabin time
Before you go to camp, invite your high school leaders over for “big cookie” and a mini cabin time. Ask leaders questions like “Why are you excited about camp?” and “How does it feel to know God loves you?” Train leaders how to create a safe environment, ask questions and facilitate a good discussion. Also, set realistic expectations for cabin time – a 10-minute conversation in a cabin of sixth-grade guys the first night can be a victory!
Role play sharing the Gospel
High school leaders can be intimidated by starting these conversations or explaining the Gospel to others. Ask them to memorize Scripture and teach them to talk about God’s love and grace in terms middle school kids can understand. Provide them with a bookmark for camp with Scripture reminders. Give them the opportunity to practice with other leaders.
Much of your training will be on-the-job training at camp. Check in with your high school leaders throughout the day. Ask how things are going and if they have any questions. Don’t assume they’ll come to you. Look for appropriate, teachable moments at camp, and don’t be afraid to have hard conversations with young leaders.
Don’t forget to let your high school friends process and celebrate what they see God do. Take time each day to listen and then set aside a time when you get home to meet with your high school friends and talk about their experience. Teach them how to celebrate and give thanks for how God moves when they serve.
Written by Julie Clapp, mission director of WyldLife.