Two weeks ago today, Nancy and I had just arrived with two other leaders and 28 students.  My first goals with trips like this, when responsibility for minors is put into my hands, are to:

1) Bring them all back, alive.  No more, no less.
2) Keep them from injuring themselves significantly.
3) Be proactive to avoid any major disciplinary issues.

If those 3 goals are met, I consider the trip a success, and everything else is icing on the top.  This particular trip had a lot of icing – we had a great time, major spiritual growth, lots of fun, relationships built, kids came out of their shells, and I haven’t heard anything bad from parents!

But I learned a few things on this trip, and if you ever organize or go on a trip like this, I think these tips might help you.

9 Things I learned at Summer Camp

1) Wear Sunscreen. Seriously.  Why wouldn’t you do this?  Why wouldn’t I do this?  Wear it when it’s sunny.  Wear it when it’s cloudy.  Wear it at the beach.  Wear it not at the beach.  And don’t forget the back of your calves, near your knees.  Very important, believe me.

2) Extra pizza covers over a multitude of wrongs.  I had enough of a cushion to buy some extra pizza for the last lunch (on our own before we came home) – which fed students all the way home, keeping them happy and [relatively] subdued.  I would say keep an extra pizza handy at all times – “Tired? Hot? Sunburnt? Oh, here, have some pizza!” – but that’s just not practical.  Oh, and the same goes for McDonald’s sundaes; you can’t beat $1.09 for a delicious treat.

3) Bring your Nikes.  We did a ton of walking this year, because our camp was held on a college campus for the first time. You might not be doing as much walking as we did, but you’ll be doing enough that those cheap flip-flops aren’t going to cut it for the entire week.

4) Buy/bring/store more water than you’d ever think you need.  “There wasn’t enough water at camp, and it was so hot…” is about the last thing you want parents to hear when students get home.  I thought ahead and purchased what I thought we’d need, but had to go out and purchase more later.  Buy too much – you’ll be happy you did.  If you have extra, I can think of about 93 uses for it on a hot day off the top of my head.

Check back tomorrow for the rest of the 9 Ways to Have a Great Youth Summer Camp Experience!

Question: What is your favorite summer camp memory?  From the last year or two, or several years ago?