Outsourced vs. Designing Your Own Work Camp

My neck is burning because I forgot to put suntan lotion on it.  Fortunately, that was the only downside of a great day of work camp.  Yesterday began the fourth year of Camp SMILE, a middle school work camp that I coordinate with two other local youth ministers.  It’s something we’ve shaped over the years.  Each day is a different act of service and throughout the camp our purpose is to build community while exposing them to a world that is outside of theirs.  Is the camp perfect? No, we tweak and iron out details up until the last day but, it has our heart and it produces fruit.
On top of personalizing a work camp I’ve found it fruitful to outsource the experience.  In fact the easiest way to coordinate a work camp for your youth ministry is with an organization such as Group Work Camps or Heart Work Camp.
Whether you outsource your camp or run your own both can bare fruit and have a life long impact on the lives of teens.  But, which one is better?  Which one do you prefer?  Below I have both pros and cons of an outsourced and home grown work camp experience:

  • Pros – No planning, all you have to do is get the students from home to the site.  Your focus on logistics can now shift to spending time with the students you oversee.  It’s no more about the overall experience but the relationships you can build with the students.
  • Cons – Costs get high, lack of control over content and it loses the personal feeling of, “This is for my students.” Sacrifices have to be made so that the responsibilities can be alleviated.

Home Grown:

  • Pros – You have control over content, work sites and experiences.  If you count your pennies you can find that a home grown work camp is more affordable for your students.  You can create an experience that hits your students right where they need it.
  • Cons – So much work, planning and meeting.  It can interfere with what you do on a day to day basis and if you do not delegate properly you’ll find yourself overwhelmed.

Our student ministry has done both and both experiences have produced great fruit.  Obviously the battle comes down to finances and control over creativity, all of us are going to be swayed one way or the other.
What are your thoughts on outsourcing work camps?
What are your thought on the home grown?

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