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10 People at Every Christian Youth Camp

One of my favorite things to do in ministry is preaching at Christian youth camps. It’s something that I’ve had the privilege to do for over a decade now, and it’s been truly humbling to see many students’ lives transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No matter where the youth camp is, God always seems to show up and show out in truly life-changing ways! There is just something meaningful about getting a bunch of teenagers away from the distractions of life, electronics and everything else for a week to focus on Jesus, the Bible and the beauty of community with other believers.

These camps are also a great opportunity to bring together different kinds of people from different areas, different local churches and totally different backgrounds for a week of worshipping the King as one church family. However, even in the midst of “different,” there is always the “same.” No matter which youth camp it is, what churches are there or where the camp is located, there are always a certain few kinds of people that are at every single camp, without fail.

Yes, that’s right, we’re throwing on the pre-verbal handbrake and going from super spiritual to super snarky in the blink of an eye. So, here are the 10 people that are at every Christian youth camp:

1.The Over-Zealous Adult Playing Recreation Games youth camp 3

This is best known and diagnosed as the Uncle Rico syndrome after the character from Napoleon Dynamite. “I bet I can throw a football over that mountain.” In their mind, the older they get, the better athlete they once were. And, they’re going to prove it by drilling a seventh-grader in the face with a dodge ball for the glory of God.

2. The “Are You Looking at Me While I Worship” Person

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They’re in the moment, singing Oceans off-key with hands lifted high, and while a single, solitary tear streams down the left-side of their face…then they give a quick glance to see if anyone else sees just how passionate they are about “walking upon the water.”

3. The Teenage Boy Who Tries to Hug All the Crying Girls

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The Lord is moving and so are the tears. Then, almost out of thin air, here he comes, the teenage boy who is just perfectly placed in order to be available to comfort all the crying girls. But there are no friendly side-hugs in this bro’s repertoire; he’s got one pitch, and every hug is a full-front disaster.

4. The Student Who Makes Multiple Decisions at the Same Camp

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It’s a busy week of walking aisles, praying prayers and filling out cards for this student. It’s a steady progression of re-dedication, a call to missions/ministry, then re-dedication again, but for real this time…all in one four-day span.

5. The “Sneaker-Offer” Couple

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The scavenger-hunt is on for the couple who keeps “sneaking-off” or “getting lost.” “Hey! What are you two doing?” “We were just standing here, praying.” “Well, it looks like you’re praying in tongues, so how about we call timeout on this prayer session?”

6. The Teen Who Is at Camp on Scholarship, but Brings $200 Cash

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The student pastor cut some back-room deals with the senior adult Sunday school class, they sacrificially and generously gave, and now this one student is able to come to youth camp totally free of charge. He may not show up with a Bible, but by golly he’s got enough money to buy two of every shirt at the band’s merch table, plus enough sugar snacks at the snack shack to put a Clydesdale into a diabetic coma.

7. The Student Who Spends All Their Concession Stand Money on the First Day

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She bought $25 worth of Sour Skittles and Pepsi on Day 1. Now on Day 2 she’s camped out in front of the concession stand shaking a Pepsi cup for spare quarters. (Note: In some rare unconfirmed cases, Person Number 6 and Person Number 7 may occur in the same person.)

8. The Teenager Who Returns Home With All His Clothes Still Folded in His Suit Case

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The good news? There’s no laundry to do after camp. The bad news? That student came home in a dense fog of filth, adolescent stench and enough Axe body-spray to choke a moose. Your church van will never be the same again.

9. The Student Who Thinks Swimming Counts as a Shower

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They can’t even tell you where the showers are because they haven’t taken one all week. “How?” You ask? Well they’ve been in the pool, the river or the lake already that day. That counts, right? (Note: Unlike the incredible and rare Person Number 6 and 7 Combo, chances are extremely high that Person Number 8 and Person Number 9 are the same person. Be warned.)

10. The Student Pastor Who Believes That What They’re Doing Matters

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Alright, alright it got serious again. Student pastor, keep your eyes on the prize. Your calling is so incredibly important because the Spirit is working through you to help reach, disciple and empower the next generation to be on mission right now for the glory of our Risen King. God bless you for your sacrifice and obedience. May the Lord constantly fill you with energy, patience and perseverance, because what you’re doing really does matter.  

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Shane serves as the Director of Evangelism for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. He and his wife, Kasi, reside in Rockwall, TX with their five children – Raygen, Harper, Titus, Elliot, & Glory. He has been in ministry for over 15 years as a church planter, lead pastor, associate pastor, and student pastor. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical Studies, a Master’s Degree in History, and a PhD in Clinical Christian Counseling.