10 Things I Hate About Youth Ministry in The Summer

As I write this, I’m in a hospital with one of my students instead of being with the rest of my youth group enjoying what we’ve got planned at summer camp. It’s nothing life-threatening—just your typical trip to the hospital because a student didn’t listen to the warnings of dehydration. I shouldn’t be here—we even went to the trouble of supplying each cabin with water and sunscreen and daily reminders. Maybe next summer we’ll bring his mom (well, I’ll have to think more about it).

This probably isn’t the best time to write this monthly article (since I’m a little ticked right now) but I’ve got a lot of free time right now. So, here goes: 10 things I hate about youth ministry in the summer.

10. Trips to the hospital for students who don’t pay attention.
9. Being in my bathing suit and standing next to teenagers.
8. The increased and crazy pace.
7. Trying to manage the summer and plan for the fall at the same time.
6. When my own children are at home and/or playing all day while I’m at church.
5. When my student leaders go on vacation and miss summer camp.
4. Students who “need” summer camp don’t attend… “just because.”
3. Inconsistent attendance at programs.
2. When great camps/events are followed by calls by angry parents who want to know why their child came home without their towel, jacket, bowels, etc…
1. When summer ends.

As tough as summer is, I really hate it when it ends. Summer brings so many relational moments, fun memories, and fresh spiritual commitments. While I’m sitting here with one, I’m thankful there are many others back at camp who listen, learn, are asking great questions, making new friends, and trying to figure out how to live in today’s world as a teenager with Jesus as the Savior of their life.

Regularly, I’m reminded that youth ministry isn’t easy—especially during the summer. But, I’m also reminded that being a youth worker is a rewarding role when we get to rub shoulders with students who respond to the Good News and their life is changed forever. I realize that you and I don’t change lives, but it’s a great ride to be there when a young life is changed forever. Thanks for being there—whether it be in the hospital or in the small group—your presence matters.  

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Doug Fields
Doug Fields has been in youth ministry since 1979 and former pastor to students at Saddleback Church in Southern California. He's the author of 50+ books, including the best-selling Purpose-Driven Youth Ministry & Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry. He's also the founder of Simply Youth Ministry, an instructor at Azusa Pacific University/HomeWord, and on the leadership team with Youth Specialties. You can connect with Doug through his blog at www.downloadyouthministry.com! More from Doug Fields or visit/subscribe to Doug's blog at www.dougfields.com