It’s that season again. Christian summer camp directors all over the country are seeking folks to come and lead worship for a week here and there. I believe it’s good for every worship leader to use their gifts leading worship for a summer camp for a week or weekend each year. It’s a different environment. There is time for relationships. You spend some time investing in the next generation. It’s real ministry and makes a huge difference.
Summer camp worship leading is unique. You don’t typically know all the students or participants and you don’t really have an idea of their worship style or background. In a camp or conference setting, there is always a wide spectrum of people.
I have been leading music at camps for years. Here are five things I think about:
You are a thermostat, not a thermometer.
At times, it takes a bit for students to connect. Just confidently begin and know that over the course of the event, connection will grow. Don’t get bent out of shape about any of the organizational stuff the first evening – camps are always a bit of chaos as they begin. Camp affords some great opportunities to interact with the congregation. Call up students who know the song well or know motions to a fun type song. Worship leaders at camp can also help teach kids how to worship. Invest time in instruction, teaching them what scripture says about worship, how they can worship and an invitation to worship freely. Help set the tone for the week with humility and energy. Be a thermostat.
Sing the song in people’s hearts.
Help people respond through music. This can be accomplished by having several songs prepared. You can also take some time to find out the direction for the speaker’s message and line up, as best as possible, a song that may fit. If you see that people are connecting with a song, keep circulating it through during the camp. Pray before hand and during to be in step with the God’s spirit as you are leading the camp. Most often I find that several slightly older songs are the best for a general week of camp, with a couple newer ones thrown in. Also, don’t be afraid to do a couple more light hearted songs – camp or fun songs.
Relationships enhance the worship and music times.
Be involved in the overall camp and event. Have meals with students and/or adults in the dining hall. Spend time in recreation. Hang out, be visible, go to the snack shack and learn kids’ names. As relationships form, connection in worship times will begin to flourish. One great benefit to serving as a worship leader for a special one time summer event is the time available to invest in relationships. Relationships outside of the music and worship time, also allows you to be a little more informal during worship. At camp, there often isn’t as tight of a schedule or issue of flow. There are times to intro songs, tell a story from the day where you saw God at work, and the jump into a scripture or worship song. Students and adults will be be more receptive the more there is connection.
Use song repetition to your advantage.
We want students to catch onto songs, hum them all week and sing them on the way home. We want to teach people songs and get them singing confidently for both worship and response as the camp week progresses. Often, for a week long camp, we will pick out about 16-20 songs and sort of mix and match them, singing four to seven each worship time slot.
Do the basics well.
Camp is more informal, but worship leaders should still put in 100%! As the worship leader or worship team for camp, you are responsible for the worship area – keep it nice and clean. Welcome people to worship in an energetic way. Don’t be tuning up and banging around on instruments as the congregation enters for worship, have some pre-recorded music playing. Be sure participants can see the lyrics to songs as they are projected. Pray before each worship session. Double check the worship flow with the camp pastors and directors. Be ready to fill time if needed. Plan out the worship set list during the days, before worship. Be on time and adequately prepped. Do the basics well – try to shake the attitude that it’s “good enough for camp.” Make it great!