*This camp/retreat curriculum could be easily adapted for weekly Sunday school or Youth Group use. Make modifications as needed. The intent is to help Youth experience the Means of Grace (Spiritual Disciplines/Christian Practices).
How To Use this Curriculum:
This curriculum was written to be as flexible for each camp and each Family Group as possible. There is WAY MORE material than you can ever get done in your Family Group time. It is NOT intended that you should try and do it all.
Before each session, the Senior Counselor (SC) and Junior Counselor (JC) should meet and decide exactly what they will try and accomplish with that session’s curriculum.
- Some Family Groups need to have more time spent on an activity….doing something physically.
- Some Family Groups will want to spend more time in discussion…..talking about the ideas and sharing stories.
- Some Family Groups will want to dig deep into Scripture.
- Some Family Groups will want to have time to address life issues that Youth face back at home.
- Some campers will learn more from activity, some from listening, and some from discussion, some from writing down their thoughts, some from reading Scripture or even the curriculum!
This is a “Choose Your Own Adventure” kind of curriculum! Have fun, be flexible, and pay attention to the needs of your Family Group. If you are unsure of what to choose, seek the guidance of your camp directors.
Each component of the sessions:
This will be a focus for the session’s main idea. All of the elements of this curriculum are grounded in Scripture. Don’t be afraid to use the Bible as much as possible during your sessions.
Open with Prayer
This gives you session “God focus” and helps Youth experience different ways of praying and allows different Youth to practice praying for the Group.
Flip the Light Switch
Here there are several quotes from some famous and some not so famous Christians. The quotes are aimed at helping people thing about the Main Idea. The Main Idea is spelled out so you won’t have to guess.
This is a Warm Up activity to get your group going this session.
“Hey! What’s that?”
This is helpful information that will get the Group looking closer at the Main Idea.
Journal time! This is a time for Youth to write down their thoughts. For some it will help them think through the Main Idea. For some, it will give some starting points to work on their faith when they get home.
This may be done during Family Group time or allow Youth to do this on their own between sessions. At least the first few sessions, have the Youth begin their journal exercise in Group.
This is an activity to help your group see the Main Idea. If you do this, you will have very little time for all of the other components. But, sometimes, this activity may be the most valuable time you can spend.
Discussion time. Questions to help you lead the Family group through a discussion of the Main Idea.
Extra Bible Stuff
For those individuals or groups that just want to spend MORE time with God’s Word.
A way to wrap things up asking for God’s help and guidance as the group goes forth.
This is for the camper’s benefit. There is one Action Item for each Family Group Session.
Session 1: Getting To Know You & Introduction to the Theme
Supplies: Camper Books, Pens, Bibles, M & M’s (1 BIG bag per group), butcher paper, masking tape, and markers.
“If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more his name,’ then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” Jeremiah 20:9 NRSV
Open with Prayer
The JC should open with a prayer inviting the Holy Spirit to be active in bringing this family group close together over the next week.
Flip the Light Switch
The MAIN IDEAS of this session is to GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER and to BECOME FAMILIAR WITH THE THEME VERSE for the week and Establish A GROUP COVENANT to live by each session.
Pass around the bag of M & M’s. Each member of the group should get a handful of M & M’s and place them on their camp folder sorting them by color. For each one, they have to say 1 thing about themselves and each color represents a different part of their life. Be creative!
Sample: Red = Friends, Brown = room, Green = school stuff, Yellow = Family, Blue = activities, Gold = doesn’t matter…..you’ve just won $1,000,000 dollars you probably are not thinking about family group anymore! J
“Hey! What’s that?”
Now that you all know each other, explore the theme Scripture verse together. Try and decide what it means by reading the few verses that come before and the few verses that come after.
What does anyone in your group know about Jeremiah? His times? Consider reading Jeremiah 1:4-10 for a better understanding of who Jeremiah is.
In each camper’s folder there are several blank sheets of paper for journal sessions. One of the classic Christian practices we will use for the entire week will be Journaling in relation to each session. Campers are welcome to also journal outside of family group time as they are struck by some special insight about God, Jesus, their faith, etc. so they will have that to look back at after they leave camp.
For this session, write a few brief words about your thoughts after meeting your group and exploring the Theme Scripture. Maybe even re-write Jeremiah’s words to make them your own.
Now take a few moments to develop a group covenant (rules you will live by for the week and have each group member sign the piece of butcher paper. Choose one member to be the scribe to write down everything you all come up with.
Sample ideas: Confidentiality, agree to disagree, what is said here stays here, no gossip, everybody participates, be on time, be there for each other, etc.
After everyone signs, hang your covenant up on the wall for the week.
Talk about the Theme Soul Fire: Light Your World.
What does this theme mean in your opinion?
What parts of *your* world need more light?
What parts of *the* world need more light?
Has anyone ever felt like their Soul was on fire for God?
Has anyone had a similar experience to Jeremiah’s?
After hearing the theme, what do you hope to get out of camp this year?
What do you hope to get from this family group?
Stand and join hands in a circle. Do a circle prayer with each person thanking God for one thing about their family group.
Write the Names of your Family Group members here:
Session 2: God Light- PRAY
Supplies: Camper Book, Bibles, Yarn, Blindfolds
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26 NRSV
Open with Prayer
Let the SC open with a prayer asking God for direction in understanding the ways to talk with God and the ways to listen for God’s voice through prayer.
Flip the Light Switch
“The first and basic act of theological work is prayer….it can be performed only
in the act of prayer.” Karl Barth
“Real prayer is life creating and life changing.” Richard Foster
“Prayer is the rope that pulls God and man together. But it doesn’t pull God down to us: It pulls us up to him.” Billy Graham
The Main Idea of this session is to simply talk about prayer and to think about what prayer is and what prayer is not.
Go around the circle and allow each person to share one way they pray. (Example: saying grace at mealtimes.)
Go around the circle again and share one way each person “wishes” they prayed. (Example: when times are tough.)
Look at the Key Scripture. How is this blessing like a prayer? How is it unlike a prayer? What is being asked of God? What is being asked of people?
“Hey! What’s that?”
Some people like catchy little names to help them remember important stuff. One way that has been used for many years to remember types of prayer is called the “ACTS” method. ACTS is an acronym for:
These could all be incorporated into one prayer or be 4 different prayers over the course of prayer time with God. Some people may not be familiar with these terms so let’s define them clearly.
Adoration: To “adore” God is to praise and honor God because God IS GREAT!
“You are holy, Lord, the only God, and your deeds are wonderful. You are strong. You are great. You are the most high. You are almighty. You, holy Father, are king of heaven and earth. You are three and one, Lord God, all good. You are good, all good, supreme good, Lord God, living and true. You are love, you are wisdom, you are humility, you are endurance. You are rest, you are peace. You are joy and gladness. You are justice and moderation. You are all our riches, and you suffice for us. You are beauty. You are gentleness. You are protector, you are our guardian and defender. You are courage. You are our haven and our hope. You are our faith, Our great consolation. You are our eternal life, Great and wonderful Lord, God almighty, merciful savior.” Saint Francis of Assisi
Confession: After we reflect on the absolute goodness of God, we may become very aware that we are not all that good, we fall short, and we fail. Confession is simply acknowledging our habitual shortcomings, our sins. God’s capacity to forgive is always bigger than our capacity to sin.
“If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 NRSV
Thanksgiving: Hopefully, when we recall that God tends to “stick with us” even when we fail and remember the other things God has done for us….we will be led naturally into saying “Thanks!.” This is simply a way to make sure we do not take God for granted, that we express our gratefulness.
Supplication: This has two parts-
- Petition: This is simply a BIG word that means we ask God for help. Sharing with God our needs and desires.
- Intercession: This simply means asking God to help somebody else.
Write a prayer in your journal using the ACTS method. It may just be a sentence or two for each part. That is fine. You may want to share your prayer with the group later.
SC and JC refer to your Leader Instructions.
As a group, with your SC and JC leading the activity, you will be blindfolded and placed on a Lifeline to follow. You should follow this line wherever it goes. Listen to and talk to God as you follow this line.
After the activity, discuss with the group what this experience was like.
How was this activity like or unlike your prayer life?
Have a general discussion on prayer.
What is your prayer life like?
Does your family pray? When? How? Do you pray together? Why or why not?
What is the prayer time like in your Church worship service?
What is the best time of day for you to pray?
Do you tend to talk to God more or listen to God more? Why?
How many parts of the ACTS method do you use?
What do you think about the ACTS method?
Debrief the Lifeline activity.
How important is prayer in your life with God?
What can you do to give prayer a bigger priority in your life?
Who do you pray for?
Who would you like this Family Group to pray for?
What in your life would you like this Family Group to pray for?
What do you want to pray about more?
Extra Bible Stuff
The Bible if full of references to Prayer. In the Bible, Prayer is the “lifeline” connecting human spirit with Holy Spirit. Here are a few passages with insights into the practice of prayer.
Models of Intercession
- 1 Samuel 2:1-10 and Luke 1:46-55 (praise and thanksgiving for the miraculous work of God in human history)
- Ephesians 1:16-19 (for growth in spiritual depth and wisdom)
- Philippians 1:3-6 (for partners in ministry)
- 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 (remembrance of fellow believers)
“How to” Passages on Prayer
- Psalm 62:8 (how to be honest in prayer)
- Psalm 136:1-3, 26 (how to pray)
- Matthew 6:5-14 (how and what to pray)
- John 15:7 (the proper context for expecting answers to prayer)
- Ephesians 6:18 (when and how to pray)
- Philippians 4:4-7 (how to experience joy and peace through prayer)
- Hebrews 4:14-16 (how to approach God in prayer)
- James 1:5-8 (how to approach God in prayer)
- James 4:3 (how not to pray, and an explanation of unanswered prayer)
- 1 John 3:19-24 (how to be confident in prayer)
The Results of Prayer
- Isaiah 30:19-22 (God’s responsiveness to us; divine guidance)
- Jeremiah 29:12-13 (God’s responsiveness to us)
- Matthew 18:19-20 (what happens when we pray in community)
- 1 John 1:9 (the prayer of confession)
Close by having 5 people in your Family Group volunteer to pray out loud one part of the ACTS method.
Session #2: Lifeline
Before your session starts: Take the yarn provided and set up a course outside somewhere weaving the yarn around trees, etc. creating a path that can be followed by a blindfolded camper.
Blindfold your group except for your JC and SC.
Give the following instructions: You will be led outside on a blind trust walk. We will move slowly to an area that has been prepared. One by one you will be place on a Lifeline which is a piece of yarn. You are to follow this Lifeline wherever it leads. Do not let go of your Lifeline for any reason. When you come to the end of your Lifeline, you will be instructed what to do.
Lead your group out always watching for safety issues.
One by one, allowing a few moments in between each person, place each member on the Lifeline. Watch to make sure everyone stays safe while they follow the yarn. Gently guide them by silently placing a hand on their shoulder to miss obstacles as needed. As they reach the end of the Lifeline, hesitate for a moment and then sit them down in a comfortable place. Once every member has finished, allow everyone to remove their blindfolds. Then discuss what the activity was like for everyone.
How was this activity like or unlike their actual Prayer life?