Why Kids Don’t Go To Camp: How to Navigate Schedule Conflicts

Drew Hill April 16, 2021

We’re continuing our “Why Kids Don’t Go To Camp” series by looking at The Top 5 Excuses Kids Make and How to Respond.

  1. My friends aren’t going.
  2. I don’t have the money.
  3. My parents won’t let me.
  4. I have schedule conflicts.
  5. I’m afraid of the unknown.

Today we’re talking about how to address schedule conflicts

We’ve heard the excuses…

I can’t go to camp… 

I have to work this summer to pay for car insurance.”

“My coach will bench me if I miss summer practice.”

“My family is going to the beach that week.”

These schedule conflicts are often the straws that break our backs. We’ve worked hard to overcome the obstacles of friends, money, and parents, but now feel almost ready to give up. There’s hope! Don’t give up yet!

How To Navigate Schedule Conflicts

Cast A Vision

To a 16-year-old, the idea of having your own set of wheels is the ultimate goal in life. If it means scooping ice cream all summer for minimum wage in order to pay for car insurance, then so be it. A week at camp not only costs money, but limits the ability to make summer income.

We’ve got to convince our friends that years from now the $140 they would have made mixing strawberries with graham crackers won’t compare to the priceless value of those camp memories and experiences.

Show them pics and videos from past summer camps. Show them pictures of your bridesmaids and groomsmen. Cast a vision for the bonding and relationships that happen on trips like these. Who knows, one day your friends who stood with you on top of 13,000 ft mountain might stand beside you at an altar?

Talk to Parents

Talk to their parents first and get them on board. A few weeks ago a leader in our area convinced a family to change their vacation dates so their son could come to camp.

Talk To Coaches

Usually, in order to be able to have these conversations with coaches, it requires earning the right to be heard by them as well. If they already know you and have seen you supporting their team at games and practices, they’re more likely to listen to you. Once you have their ear, cast a vision for them about the value of their players attending camp. Many times, coaches sole focus is on an athlete’s performance, but we all know the value of having a team member with high character. Tell the coach that this trip might not make “Big John” a better football player, but it will make him a better leader. Most coaches really do care about kids, otherwise, they wouldn’t work countless hours for little pay. Tell the coach that you don’t want Big John to just be a great football player, but to be a great man. Convince him that a week away from summer practice will be worth it in the long run of Big John’s life. It also doesn’t hurt that many of our camp properties have weights and work out facilities. If an athlete can keep running or lifting while they’re out of town, it helps the coach give the green light. It also helps to show them this video of Aaron Rodger’s sharing his greatest regret.

Or this video of Emmanuel Sanders talking about Crooked Creek.

Talk to Bosses

If you’ve ever managed a restaurant employee schedule, I salute you. I can’t imagine a more annoying task than trying to fit the time off requests of fifty workers into one work schedule. Empathize with employers. Tell them you know that it makes their job harder when they lose an employee for a week. Then cast the same vision you did for the coach. Odds are they’ll be a better employee when they come back from camp then they were before they left. Be gracious and grateful.

Talk To Camp

If you have a high schooler taking an online summer class, don’t let that be an excuse. Young Life camps will work with you to make it possible for your high school friend to be there. One summer, the office staff at Sharptop allowed one of our guys to spend an hour on their computer every day after lunch. He would not have been able to come if the office staff hadn’t been willing to make it work for him. Don’t abuse them, but also don’t be afraid to ask. Remember, property staff loves these campers just as much as you do.

Consider an Alternative

If you’ve tried everything and are still hitting a roadblock, think outside the box. I’ve taken kids who weren’t able to go to a traditional weeklong summer camp on shorter backpacking trips that were just as meaningful.

One of my friends rented an RV for his Campaigners group and took them on a tour of 6 different Major League ballparks.

While there’s nothing quite like a week at a Young Life summer camp, the goal isn’t just getting kids to camp. The goal is introducing them to Jesus and walking with them in daily relationships. Camp isn’t the only way to make that happen. Talk to your Area Director and see if they have ideas for what you can do with kids who just can’t make summer camp work.

Start Planning for Next Summer

Your area will find out summer camp dates this coming fall. Consider sending out “Save The Date” postcards to everyone in your club card database. But don’t just count on postcards and club announcements to do the trick. The most effective way to “save the date” is to go ahead and get kids signed up early. If you feel like you’re behind in that process this year, go ahead and begin planning for next summer. It’ll be here before you know it!

Looking for a book to read together with other Young Life leaders? You can currently buy ALONGSIDE: LOVING TEENAGERS WITH THE GOSPEL in bulk discount on NewGrowthPress.com.

You can also buy the audiobook and listen on Audible.

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