Help! I’m a Camp Speaker!

I love camps. I always have. I always will. But it’s easy to panic when asked to speak for a camp or a retreat. So to help you overcome that panic and make a nice easy transition into being a camp speaker, here are some valuable lessons I learned while having the privilege to speak and lead worship at camps that totally rocked my world.

1) Avoiding volleyballs is a great way to connect with students:

I do not consider myself a volleyball player. In fact, the last time I really played competitive volleyball was in junior high. In case you are wondering, I was on the “C” team. Yes, I said “C.” (There was a “D” team and I am pretty sure that I barely avoided that team by the skin on my teeth). When our worship band decided to play in a camp volleyball tournament last summer, I made no promises of contributing any mad skills. As the volleyball tournament unfolded, my main tactic was to stay away from the ball. Throughout the day, I literally hit it three times. It’s true. Yet, despite my lack of hand-eye coordination, the volleyball tournament ended up being a camp highlight. I learned that students don’t care about your skills. They care about your availability.

2) My lingo totally changes at camp:

While at camp, I found myself saying things like, “Sup!” and “YOLO!” which typically are not part of my vocabulary. Much to my surprise, I even slipped out a “ya’ll” while at a camp in Tennessee last month! The students cracked up and were proud that they had rubbed off on me! I realize though our words do help us connect with students and sometimes speaking “teenage-ese” really does help us leaders get on their level.

3) Lara Bars rock:

Have you ever had a Lara Bar? They are so healthy, delicious, and the perfect way to get through a long afternoon at camp when you get the munchies. I have 12 packed in my bag for the camp I am headed to tomorrow!

4) Naps also rock:

Just as Lara Bars can help get you through a long afternoon at camp, so can naps. Seriously though, I had to learn to make myself rest. I am usually a go, go, go person and I am especially that way at camp. Yet, when I was preparing to speak and lead worship, a friend and mentor of mine told me that I need to take time to rest, reflect, process, pray and discern. This means that I had to take time away from the hustle and bustle of camp in order to be effective in ministry. I learned that in order to give effectively, I had to rest effectively as well.


Trent Friberg, youth pastor from Centralia, WA. (Photo credit: Elevate Youth)


5) Youth leaders are invaluable:

I love getting to know youth pastors and leaders at camps. I especially love seeing these folks pouring into their students throughout the week. While speaking at camps, I have gained an even greater appreciation for youth leaders. Last summer, during one of the camps, I found myself feeling the burden of trying to speak to every students’ needs in the room. However, I came to realize that I can only deliver the message that I believe God gave me, to lay the foundation for youth leaders to build upon with their students. After chapel, students had the chance to unpack the message with their youth leaders. Youth leaders know students better than I will ever get to know students. They have been on a journey with them before camp, and they continue to journey with them after camp. Students open up to youth leaders and process with them in deep, meaningful ways. I am always thankful to have the opportunity to speak at camps, but I truly believe that youth leaders are the main instruments of delivering God’s grace and love in a personal way to students. With all of this said, youth leaders, thank you for all that you do for the Kingdom. You are indispensable. When you need a nap, are missing your family, and may be tempted to pull your hair out, please know that you are making a difference an eternal difference.


Carly Bartlett

Carly Bartlett

Worship Leader / Speaker at Woods End Ministries
Carly Bartlett serves as a Young Women’s Pastor in the Boise, Idaho area. She is also a worship leader and speaker with Woods End Ministries,
which she co-founded in 2012. Carly has a desire to empower teens and young adults to trust in the unwavering love and strength of God. She and her husband, Mike, love to travel, make homemade ice-cream, and run with their 90 lb. goldendoodle, Izzy. For more information on Carly Bartlett, follow her on twitter @barlycartlett or visit on Facebook.
Carly Bartlett

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