Category Archives: camp

How to take better pictures at Young Life Camp & Club.

We have the best story to tell in Young Life, how kids are introduced to the person of Jesus Christ and establish a life long faith in Him.  We all see kid’s lives transformed by a week of Camp or the ministry of an intentional leader in their lives.  Let’s learn to tell better stories through pictures in our Young Life ministry.


In this interview with Ben Dodds (@bendodds or we discuss how to take better pictures.  Ben is a highly skilled photographer.  His passion for great photos and Young Life ministry makes him a leader in the area or Young Life pictures.  Take some time and to learn something new.

Here are some tools we talked about in our conversation or other tools to help you become a better photographer:

Leave a comment if you have any questions or ideas around pictures in Young Life ministry.

Should you compare Young Life camp Clubs with your local area Clubs?

Each summer I hear form leader, we should have our area Clubs like Clubs at summer Young Life camp.  You are fired up after an amazing week of Young Life camp and you want to change to make your Club better.  Thought there are many great aspects of the summer camp Club you can bring back to your local Club, be aware it won’t be the same.


The local Club and the summer camp Club are so different, I don’t think it is fair to compare the two.  There are elements in the summer camp Club, that if you tried to bring home, just won’t work.

Here is where I say you can’t compare the two:

  • A different atmosphere.  Kids will often show up early to Clubs back home, which is great.  But, they are not lining up an hour before Clubs starts like at Camp.  The whole week long atmosphere at camp is directed to amazing proclamation during the week in Club.
  • The environment.  One of the amazing things about Young Life Clubs at summer camp is that we take kids out of their environments back home (good or bad) so they can hear about Jesus.  Kids back home are coming into club with lots of things pulling for their attention.  With Clubs in our local areas, we are continually trying to get kids attention during the week.  It is not the same at summer camp.
  • The quality of the speaker.  We have amazing communicators that share at our summer camp Clubs.  Although, we strive for excellence in our local Young Life Club talks; it can be difficult to communicate in the same way as Club at camp.  The content might be the same, but the delivery will look different.
  • The quality of the program.  Gifted program directors spend months preparing for 5, 6 or 7 amazing Clubs at camp.  You get the best of the best program at a summer camp Club.  Many of skits and games you can recreate at home, but the execution and timing might not be the same.

Let me know what you think.  Leave a comment!

3 ways to showcase Young Life on your Facebook profile.

We as a Young Life community of staff, leaders, committee and donors are very passionate about our mission.  The kids we work with often are as passionate or more passionate than we are.  Here are a couple of ways to show your Young Life pride on Facebook.

1. Highlight the Young Life logo in your photos.  You can pick which picture you want to highlight on your bar underneath your profile picture and cover photo.

2. Have your profile picture of you and your Young Life kids.  If kids see themselves in the most prime location, they will feel valued want to share it with their friends.

3. Use one of these Facebook Cover Photos on your Facebook profile.  If you highlight camp, then your kids will most likely as well.  You can download any of these by just clicking on them.

Beyond Malibu Facebook page cover

Breakaway Facebook page cover

Castaway Club Facebook page cover

Clearwater Cove Facebook page cover

Crooked Creek Ranch Facebook page cover

Frontier Ranch Facebook page cover

Lake Champion Facebook page cover

Lost Canyon Facebook page cover

Malibu Club Facebook page cover

Oakbridge Facebook page cover

Rockbridge Facebook page cover

Saranac Facebook page cover

SharpTop Cove Facebook page cover

Southwind Facebook page cover

Timber Wolf Lake Facebook page cover

Trailwest Facebook page cover

Washington Family Ranch Facebook page cover

Washington Family Ranch Creekside 3 Facebook page cover

Washington Family Ranch Creekside 2 Facebook page cover

Washington Family Ranch Creekside 1 Facebook page cover

Wilderness Ranch Facebook page cover

Windy Gap Facebook page cover

Woodleaf Facebook page cover

Young Life summer camp sell ideas.

Celebrate Young Life Camp Sign Ups:

We need to do a better job of celebrating Young Life summer camp sign ups as leaders, areas and a mission. Celebration can be a momentum builder and can also inspire other leaders to get kids signed up for summer camp.

Here are some celebration questions to ask:

  • How are we going to celebrate new camp sign ups in Club?
  • How are we going to celebrate new camp sign ups as a Young Life area?
  • How will our celebration strategy help promote camp to other kids?
  • Is our celebration strategy both internal (in Club or area) and external (with kids)?

Know the why of Young Life summer camp?

If you know the why behind summer camp with your high school or junior high friends, then you have a higher probability of them going with you to summer camp.

Two questions to ask yourself about summer camp sell:

  • Why do I want this specific kid or group of kids to go to Young Life camp this summer?  Give three reasons why
  • How will this specific kid or group of kids benefit from attending this summer camp trip?  Give three reasons why

Give aways for signing up for Young Life camp:

Everyone loves FREE stuff. That is why we enter sweepstakes and contests. If you build in the cost of a hoodie, t-shirt, iPhone case, etc into the cost of camp; then you can give it away for FREE when they sign up. Put a time frame on it, it will help you get them registered by a certain date.

Hot Give away items:

  • Young Life t-shirts
  • Young Life hoodies
  • Young Life Scarfs
  • Young Life iPhone cases
  • Young Life water bottles

Eliminate Barriers for kids NOT to go to camp:

You want to take away as many barriers for kids to not go to camp. Here are some things to think about:

  • Never say I don’t have a summer camp flyer for you! Always have a flyer at Club, Campaigners, Contact Work, etc.
  • Have an easy way kids sign up for camp online.
  • Know the whys of summer camp.
  • Have responses ready to go on the excuses kids will give you why they don’t want to go to camp.
  • Have a great camp fundraiser(s) for kids to earn a bunch of money for summer camp.

One of the main reasons kids don’t go to camp is that they have many excuses why not to go. If you have answers to their excuses, before they give their excuses, then you have a higher probability that they will go.

The Top Five Excuses kids don’t go to summer camp:

  • My Friends Aren’t Going
  • I Don’t Have The Money
  • My Parents Won’t Let Me
  • I Have Schedule Conflicts
  • I’m Afraid Of The Unknown

Link to this article –

Create the impression of limited spots for Camp:

We never want to deceive kids, but you can create the impression of limited space at camp without deceiving them. I have heard from some of our kids from our area at different times, that there are always spots for camp. Have the right size for your summer camp trip helps in that situation.

Wait lists create the reality of limited spots. If you have more than one Club in your area, have each Club get a certain number of of the overall spots for camp. That way, you are able to create the feel of urgency.

Camp Sell Ideas during Club:

Set up a Photo booth – Have a cool back drop or photo booth and have kids take pictures with their camp deposits in hand. Print the pictures out. If you are away for the summer, send them a picture postcard of the photo as camp draws near. You can also bring the pictures and give them out to your kids during your one on one’s during camp.

Bus Poster – Create a bus and have a picture of each kid taking a seat on that bus. If you have the bus poster up during Club, celebrate each new sign up for camp during announcements.


Have kids that have gone to camp before help sell summer camp – As Young Life leaders we are great at selling summer camp to our friends, but often times their peers are just as good if not better at selling summer camp.

Here are some ways to have kids that have gone to summer camp from the year before, to help sell summer camp:

  • Have them give a testimonial of summer camp and how it impacted their lives.
  • Have them make a video of their testimonials to show in Club & on Social Media.

Have a leader and/or kid video to sell camp – Video is powerfully. It can be shown in Club, but also have a higher visibility factor through social media. If kids are in the video, you get the opportunity to create it with them, along with the viral impact you can have with them sharing it with their friends.

Get a famous Alumni story form your area about summer camp – If you have a well known alumni from your Young Life area, do a video interview with them about summer camp and how it impacted their lives.

Have a leader and/or kid skit to sell camp – Well practiced leader and/or kid skits in Club can be magical. If you are looking to find creative ways to engage kids and sell camp, do a skit in Club.

Show the Young Life camp promo video – Young Life does a great job producing summer camp sell videos for each Club. Be careful not to over play them in Club. You don’t want to hear kids moan when they come on in Club.

Camp Sell Ideas Outside of Club:

Call the Parents – Call parents and ask them if their kid can go to camp before you ask the kid. If the parent gives you the okay on camp, then asking the kid is much easier. Kids often use their parents as their first excuse in not going to camp.

Send a Postagram – Send kids a postagram postcard inviting them to go with you to camp. If you have pictures of your Young Life kids on your smartphone, send them a postcard with a picture of themselves or even better you and them. You can guarantee that they will punch it out and put it on the wall in their room.


Ask kids One on One – Meet with kids individually and ask them to come to camp with you. This is most likely the most powerfully tool we have as Young Life leaders. Don’t let fear hinder you from asking kids. Ultimately God is control.

Text Kids – Text message kids about camp. You will need to know the tension between inviting and annoying. Kids get hundreds of text messages a day. You will need to be creative in how your text messages get noticed by kids.

Use Social Media – Use the Social Media resources at your finger tips. You should be posting to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc each week if you are going to camp as a leader about camp.

Here are some ideas of what to do:

  • Post pictures of you and your Young Life kids on Instagram (also push it out to Twitter & Facebook) with tagging your kids in the picture.
  • Facebook message your kids your online camp sign up information and/or the camp video for your week of camp.
  • DM your kids on Twitter with links to your online camp sign up information and/or the camp video for your week of camp.
  • Change your cover area on your Facebook book profile to showcase Young Life camp.
  • Tag photos of your Young Life kids on Facebook of previous fall or summer camp trips, with a link to your area’s camp registration for this year.

Download the this in a document here:

Do you have other ideas for summer camp sell?  Leave a comment.

Create a Young Life online registration for your summer camp trip.

Young Life summer camping is a huge part of our mission.  You don’t have top tell Young Life leaders the importance of summer camping with their friends.  It is a Jesus life changing experience in people’s lives.

Online registration is the key way to get people signed up for everything, in today’s world.  We should have an easier way for people to register online.  The Young Life online payment system is great, but does not collect enough information.  So, you need to build your own system.  Here is ours.

Step 1 – Get your link from Camp Manager in Staff Resources

The Young Life has a great online payment system, but can be difficult to figure out how to use.  So here is an easy look at it.

1. Click on the top for the “I looking for”, then Click on Camp Manager

2. Click on “Camp Trip Manager Application”.

3. Make sure your Young Life area name is highlighted, then Click on the arrow on the right.

4. Click on the Copy Link tab above.

5. You have two different Copy options for the specific week of camp for your area.

6. You can always go back to the Payment tab to see who has submitted online. You can cross reference this with your Google Doc Form.

Step 2 – Create a Google Form, for them to register through

They first year we used this system, we just promoted the online payment system as our registration form.  The issue we ran into was that we had kids register for camp and we had no record of them in our database.  So now use a Google Doc Form as a our registration.

This year kids can get a FREE Young Life hoodie or Young Life iPhone case when they sign up.  We collect this information in our Google Doc Form.

Here is information you will want to collect in your Google Doc Form:

  • Student First Name
  • Student Last Name
  • School they attend
  • Student Cell Phone
  • If your school is NOT listed above, please fill in the box bellow.
  • Student T-Shirt Size
  • Parent(s) Name
  • Address
  • City
  • State
  • Zip
  • Parent Cell Phone
  • Parent Home Phone
  • Parent Email
  • Current Grade
  • If you are giving something away if kids sign up for camp, have a line here for that.

One key with using the Google Doc Form is you will link to your copied camp payment code on your confirmation/completion of the form.  Like this.

If you want to see what our Google Doc Form looks like, CLICK HERE.

Step 3 – Promote it in Emma on Facebook, Twitter, in Email, Etc

The Google Doc Form you will be able to link to EVERYWHERE!  So, promote it like crazy and get kids signed up for summer camp!

Places to promote your online registration:

  • Young Life area Facebook Page
  • Young Life Twitter account
  • Emma newsletter account
  • Have parents, kids, leaders, etc promote on Facebook & Twitter

7 things we learned from running our own Young Life discipleship camp.

What happens when a bunch of your Young Life kids have already been to a Young Life camp once or twice?  What do you do with them then? When you look at the options for Young Life discipleship camp, there are not to many options.  You can do a backpacking trip, missions trip, etc.

My Young Life kids were not interested in any of the traditional discipleship camp options.  So, we created our own discipleship camp.  Which meant we needed to figure out own travel, lodging, activities, meals, etc.  Going to a Young Life property is easy, creating a camp out of nothing is more difficult.  Here is what we learned so you don’t make our mistakes.

Here are 7 things we learned from running our own Young Life discipleship camp:

1. Find the right place for housing.  When planning housing, it is key to think about more than the number of beds.  Having the right amount of bathrooms and gathering spaces are also key things to think about when it comes to finding the right housing.  If you are sharing housing with another group, help create a barrier between your group and others.  We rented out a bed & breakfast for our housing, which work great.  It had the right number of beds, bathrooms and gathering spaces.

2. Keep the food simple.  We over thought the food on our trip.  We had stuff to make great meat and cheese sandwiches each day, but kids would have preferred PB&J each day.  We also tried to make great meals at night, but kids would have preferred pizza and take out Chinese food.  Keep it simple and you will win.

3. Have a physical activity each day.  On your first day, we didn’t have a physical activity planned and it bit us in the butt.  We thought kids would explore Mackinac Island, MI on their own the first day.  Instead, they drove each other and the leaders a little crazy the first day.  We then did kayaking & snorkeling and biking in the subsequent days and these days went much better.

4. Over schedule and have the ability to cut back if you need to.  We made the mistake of under scheduling and need to add things throughout the trip.  I would have rather over scheduled and cut back if kids and leaders felt over scheduled.

5. Plan your content ahead of time.  We did a great job of planning ahead for Clubs, Club Talks and devotionals.  We planned on doing a cell phone picture scavenger hunt during one of our Clubs, instead we used it as a stand alone activity the first night.  This meant that we had the plan the final Club while on the trip.  This makes it much more difficult.

6. Avoid hotel stays if possible.  There is something that happens when you put high school kids in hotel rooms.  What is that?  If you do need to do hotel rooms, travel into the night and get there after 8-9pm.  This way you are minimizing the time you are actually staying in the hotel.

7. Budget with some extra money to spend.  We had everything budgeted out perfectly, so I thought.  I wish we had some more money to play with on the trip.  I would have liked to have an extra $20-30 per person, to do something fun along the way; that was not already budgeted for.

If you have every run your own camp, what advice would you share.  Leave a comment!

Take a 360 panorama of Young Life camp.

Young Life properties are in some of the most beautiful places in the world. God has truly blessed us with these amazing places where we get to take our Young Life friends each summer. We as Young Life need to be thankful of these each time we take kids to these amazing places.


I often find that the pictures on the websites of each of our Young Life properties doesn’t capture the beauty of these places. So, I am asking you to help me create these to share within our Young Life mission. If you are at Young Life camp right now or still going there this summer, here is that I am asking you to do.

Here is one that I created, when i was at Timber Wolf Lake recently – Timber Wolf Lake 360 Panorama

Help create Young Life property panoramas that we can share with each other as a mission. Here are the steps:
1. Download the 360 panorama app on your smart phone (for ios and android).
2. Find the most central or beautiful place in camp.
3. Shoot your panorama with your smart phone.
4. Tweet out a link with either our Twitter handle @yldigital or use a hastag #yldigital, with a link to the 360 panorama and the camp name.
5. I will make a catalog of all the panoramas, so we can share them together as a Young Life mission.

Let me know if you need help on creating the panoramas. Have fun with it!