What parent has not received their son or daughter back from an experience like camp, only to say a week later, “Gee, my kid seemed so excited and transformed when he first came home. But now, it’s like he never went at all! Isn’t there some way to make camp last?”
At Mission Hills Church, we believe the only Sports Camp worth putting on is the kind that produces lasting results long past the days your child is in our care.
To ensure this happens, we constantly remind ourselves that no one on the MHC Kid’s Ministry staff is your child’s head coach––you are! As the coach, you are the ones responsible for seeing that the momentum of Sports Camp continues in your home. Sure, we just hosted a safe, exciting, educational, healthily competitive, spiritually-challenging camp for nearly 800 kids, but we’re only the assistant coaches. You’re in charge now! So, say these words out loud right now as you read them––“I am my child’s head coach! And I can keep the ball rolling!”
HOW TO MAINTAIN MOMENTUM
Even so, there’s not a coach on the planet who doesn’t need a little continued education. That said, the following three principles should help you and your child get the most out of Mission Hills Sports Camp.
Principle #1: “Make it fun!” Remember, your son or daughter has just spent four days immersed in high-energy activities. If they return to an environment that resembles a library, they’re probably going to go through major withdrawals. On the other hand, if you’re willing to spice things up with games, songs, riddles, puzzles, and competitions, (especially at the dinner table), then Sports Camp could last you all the way to September, when school begins. Two good resources for improving the fun-factor in your home are: “Playing for Keeps”, by Reggie Joiner, and anything by Karl Rohnke, the guru of creative games.
Principle #2: “Make it fit!” As many people know, we’re sold on the “Orange Strategy” for kids’ ministry at MHC. This blending of the “light of the church” with the “love of home” is a perfect way for us to build a bridge between these two vital institutions. Part of the Orange Strategy involves understanding the “phase” that accompanies each age group that we minister to. At our recent Sports Camp, four of those phases were represented. If you truly want Sports Camp to last, and your efforts to fit the specific needs of your child, you can become a student of the phase that fits your child. The four phases represented at this year’s Sports Camp are as follows:
Kindergarten and First Grade
This is the, “Look at me!” phase, where all of life becomes a stage for your child. During this phase, your child has just begun to attend school, which means he or she now has to share undivided attention with as many as thirty other children. To insure the results of Sports Camp continue, devote yourself to noticing your child a LOT! It’s the most important thing you can do in this phase. Remember, we’ve been praising your child for every basket, goal, pass, and handspring for the better part of a week. So, you’ll want to make sure you continue this pattern of paying attention and praising your child.
Second and Third Grade
This is the, “Sounds like fun!” phase, where your child is still excited about the things you’re excited about. Interestingly, studies show that fairness matters almost more than anything during this phase. So, if you’re playing a game at the dinner table, make sure all the rules apply equally to every family member––or you may see all that Sports Camp transformation flying right out the window in the course of one short meal. Making it “fit” with this age group really means making it “fair.”
Fourth and Fifth Grade
This is the, “I’ve got this!” phase, where you will see your child become super-interested in belonging to some tribe, team, club, or clique. Peer approval will mean the world to them, and peer disapproval will crush them. So brace yourself––because your opinion is suddenly going to mean a whole lot less to your child. Fortunately, kids in this phase will still long to show you how smart, fast and strong they are. This means you can turn anything into a fun competition, and it will fit the “I’ve got this!” phase. Literally… anything!
This is the, “Do you care?” phase, and if ever there was a phase where drama will happen, it is this one. Period. Also, you will notice a huge growth in your grocery bill, particularly if your sixth-grader is a boy. So, keep the snacks coming, and you can reduce some of the drama––though not all of it. And most of all, prove that you care by not letting the drama get to you. In time, the drama will pass.
Principle #3: “Make it forever!” Jesus once said, “A slave can’t exceed his master,” and what He was really getting at was that we can’t expect our kids to be any more spiritual than we are. Sadly, it’s the temporal things of this planet that often get our devotion. But if you really want Sports Camp to last––particularly the spiritual aspect of it––make sure your kids see you reaching up to God for the “forever” things.
- What if they heard you talk more openly about your time in the Bible that morning, or the things you learned from Craig’s sermon last Sunday?
- What if they watched you appreciating God’s creation, and listened to you praising Him for creating beautiful mountains, streams, trees, and birds?
- What if they saw YOU begin to treat everyone around you as if he or she was a “forever” being, rather than just the man who picks up your trash, or the woman who makes your coffee drink at Starbucks?
We think that “making it forever” is the best thing you can do to keep Sports Camp alive in your home.
So… there you have it. If you really want Sports Camp to last, it’s up to you to see that it happens. Make it fun! Make it fit! Make it forever! And most of all, remember that the church is here to assist you.
Go get ’em, Coach!
Will Cunningham, Family Pastor