For a long time a lot of us involved with camp ministry have struggled with follow-up. How do we stay connected with campers? How do we keep the door open for ministry after the canoes are put away, and the summer staff have gone home?
Thankfully, today’s technology has made a way for this, and more! Sometimes the Internet is bashed as a tool of the devil — and it can be that. But it is also a way into the lives of young people “24/7/365” and I believe it should be used to the max.
I have received e-mails from kids who have been on our Higher Challenge canoe trips, or who have been to our other Bible camps, and they’ve asked some pretty serious questions. Because we have built relationships with them, they trust us. In the past they usually had to wait for camp to come around. Now the Net, and young people’s interest in it, has opened up new ways of year-round follow-up!
One way is through Facebook, an Internet site that allows you to post your own personal page, with links to other “friends” pages. “Friends” are people who you’ve invited to share your page, or people who’ve invited you. Because the Facebook community is so interconnected, you soon find yourself with lots of Internet friends, including children or teens who’ve been to Bible camp.
Besides personal pages, we have a Facebook page for our Camp, and we invite campers, leaders and anyone interested to join it. I recently posted our new Higher Challenge promo video — with photos from last summer’s camps — for all our HCWA “friends” to see. We are getting some good comments on it.
Another thing you can do with Facebook is start “blog” discussions, which can be serious or funny. We are finding that this is helping former campers stay fired up about camp, and it’s creating interest from future campers. Facebook has provided an avenue for these kids to contact us or the other staff when they are seeking spiritual help.
On top of all this, to be on Facebook is “cool” (so I’ve been told) … and all of us aging missionaries could use a little more “cool” in our lives! “Cool,” in this sense, I believe, makes Jesus look good and approachable which, of course, we know He is.
Through his summer “Higher Challenge” outreach to youth, Tom Cnossen has combined canoeing, an ancient First Nations mode of transportation, with modern technical tools such as internet and satellite GPS.
Adapted from our Northern Lights magazine (Issue #507). Note: some of the locations and involvements of our missionaries may have changed since the original publishing of this article.