5 Ways to Include Missions in Youth Summer Programs
Camps, VBS Programs, and Day Camps offer a unique opportunity to teach children about God’s love for all people and encourage them to get involved in missions. Here are 5 ways to incorporate missions into your youth summer programming:
Celebrate Christmas in July
Many children in Salvation Army children’s homes, schools and centers around the world have never experienced the joy that Christmas can bring. The Sponsorship office has an on-going Share Your Christmas Joy campaign to bring these children that unique feeling of excitement, love and joy that only happens at Christmas when we celebrate the birth of our Savior.
Have a Christmas in July celebration – put up the lights, bake some Christmas cookies and maybe even give out small gifts – then explain that many children around the world don’t have the opportunity take part in special celebrations at Christmas time. Encourage each child to raise $5 for the Share Your Christmas Joy campaign! For more Share Your Christmas Joy programming ideas, visit: http://centralmissions.org/resource/share-christmas-joy-youth-program-ideas/ .
Pack Supply Kits
Involve children in packing hygiene or school supply kits to be distributed to individuals in need overseas. Collect small nylon or canvas bags and items to fill the bags, depending on what your focus will be. Suggested items for hygiene supply kits include tissue packets, small combs, lip balm, Band-Aids, small packages of wet wipes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, bars of soap, and deodorant. Suggested items for children’s school supply kits include crayons, pencils, markers, pencil sharpener, small notebook, eraser, scissors. Have children make posters or give announcements in church to help solicit donations.
Once items have been collected, have children paint basic designs (cross, sun, rainbow, flower, smiley face) on the bags and let them dry. Then set up an assembly line of supplies and have children pack the bags. Have each child write an encouraging note to the recipient of the supply kit and include it in the bag as well. Make arrangements to get the completed kits to The Salvation Army World Missions Department at Territorial Headquarters and we will give the kits to outgoing mission teams for distribution.
Hold an International Day
Choose a specific location as the focus for your day. Talk about what everyday life is like in that location, including information about climate, occupations, chores for children, school structure, and play childhood games that are popular in that area. Serve food that would be similar to what is eaten in your location. Visit http://centralmissions.org/resource/wsyouth/ for some specific suggestions and ideas. If your youth program lasts all summer long, consider having an international day each week with a different focus each time.
Sell your stuff
Help children brainstorm what items they can make and sell for World Services. Some groups in the past have made and sold loom bracelets, others have held bake sales, and one skilled young man even assembled custom-made Bagg-o sets that were sold with profits benefitting missions. A Day Camp final program or culmination event is often a great time to sell the items that the kids have created!
Have a Penny War
Divide children into two (or more) groups by gender, cabin, etc. Each group will have a bucket or container to collect pennies for World Services for a specified length of time. Any pennies that are in the team’s bucket count positively toward their goal but any other coins or dollars are subtracted. Teams can either contribute pennies to their own buckets or larger donations to other team’s buckets. Decide on a reward – such as the counselor getting a pie in the face – for the team with the highest total at the end of the competition!
How are you incorporating missions into your summer youth programming? Email us at Missions@usc.salvationarmy.org. We’d love to hear from you!