Earlier this year, I was scrambling. We were hitting crunch time to do a lot of fundraising in a short amount of time to send the kids in our congregation to church camp. I had only become Children’s Pastor in November and I decided right away that camp needed a priority… but with a small church, how could we get all these kids there?
While for most churches, things like t shirts, calendars, wrapping paper, big dinners, and things of that nature are an obvious option, we did not have the luxury of a budget to go that route. I needed an idea that would be free or cheap to start up, with no overhead so that in the end all that was raised would go directly to the fund it was being raised for.
We were going to need something different than the usual. I had a few of the girls in our church over one day just to hang out and we got to talking.
What else could we do?
One of the girls mentioned a Jog A Thon that her school had just done. It had been successful and raised quite a bit of money for science camp. I replied, “Yeah, but I don’t think we could do much with that in this situation… Those are fun though. I always liked read a thons when I was a kid.” Then it was like the light bulb hit us both at the same time:
Um, I would list cons except, well, there aren’t any!
I know you’re saying it because before I decided for sure myself to approach the leadership of my church with this idea I wrestled it all out.
Then I realized… We’re not actually PAYING the KIDS. Yeah, they benefit by what the money is raised towards, but no one is actually handing them money. In fact, we are teaching them to build a habit of reading the Bible every day. We are helping them plant those seeds in their hearts. The elders and families of the congregation are encouraging the kids and youth to build a stronger relationship with the Lord!
Two months later, I FINALLY decided to go through with our Bible Read A Thon. I drew up forms and handed them out. Shani put information in our church bulletins that the kids would be looking for sponsors to pledge towards an amount per scripture/chapter/book and that the amount could be capped out. (For younger children, we did per Bible story from a Bible story book. (And that could be read to them by a parent or older sibling.)
Now for the tricky part… There had to be proof that they actually did the reading they said they did… There were options…
Spiritually speaking? Of course! Bibles were being read and hearts were growing! I believe it paid off more in what was read than what was raised. You can’t go wrong with Bible reading!
Financially? Considering how small of a group we had that participated, yes. Definitely. In fact, most of our money for camp was raised in a short amount of time from this fundraiser!
The timing. Because we were in a time crunch and had so many different projects going at one time, I was too distracted to realize I ran this fundraiser during finals. Believe me, my oldest son let me know plenty of times that my timing was terrible. The kids were still reading, but had it been done during a different time they could have read a lot more.
I also would have made better forms. At the time, I was trying out a different Office software than the usual good ol’ Microsoft. I didn’t realize all the formatting issues I would have when it came to print. Simpler would have been better as well. The forms I made were printed on card stock, and I am still very happy with that decision. Those forms went through a lot by the time the fundraiser was over.
Feel free to download this template for your own church’s Bible Read A Thon. You will still have to attach cover letters to both your pledge form and reading logs to explain them, but maybe this can cut out one step for you or give you some ideas to format your own… Speaking of which, if you have any ideas to add to this, please let me know!
This blog post is the fourth installment of a series on church camp. You can find the first post about Kids Camp by clicking this link here, the second post about Junior High Camp by clicking on this link, and the third post about Senior camp can be found by clicking this link.
I should have stated this from the beginning… No one asked me to write this series. I actually had no intention of blogging about church camp at all. Last Thursday, I was working on homeschool planning for this upcoming school year and praying over our family’s direction when I felt that I needed to write this all out. It hit me out of nowhere, I walked in to my laptop, started typing, and what you see is the result. Hopefully I have not upset anyone with my doing this… But what you see is honest and from my heart. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move on… shall we?
Alright, so you’ve heard all about what goes on at each camp. Now let me respond to some concerns you may be having… You know that it is very involved to pack everything necessary for one camper to be prepared while on the campground. The cost seems like just one more expense… And what about the fundraising? School is about to start back up when camp is going on and there are other things that you could be doing with your child’s time. So why bother with church camp?
Well, yeah, it is time consuming to pack for camp. You aren’t just packing a suitcase as though you are going to stay in a hotel. Other than food, you need to pack almost as though you are going full blown camping. But would you do it without complaint to send your child to another camp? Scouts camp, sports camp, science camp…
The cost, well, this depends… What campground are you going to? There are some really big camps out there, all frills and they still offer a spiritual experience for you kids and teens. SoCal Youth church camp is pretty basic in the way of amenities, bringing the costs down to be much lower than most others. Nothing fancy, but still nice. Do the campers complain? Not a peep!
Not everyone can afford to send their kids to camp… Fundraising, if done properly, does not have to be as daunting. My personal opinion? It should begin the week that camp ends for the following year. There are many creative ways to go about this and they don’t have to be boring. One idea would be a monthly sponsorship… If you have an idea of how much it will cost to send a kid or teen to camp you can break that down in to monthly increments that if a church member felt lead, they could contribute to. Need more ideas? A quick search on Pinterest will bring more than enough options.
One idea that we used at our church this last year was a Bible Read-A Thon. Just like a regular read-a-thon, but with the Bible. (Hmm, maybe I’ll post the forms I made up for this soon…) Another was that our kids had a “concert”. The music from this service was put on a CD with other recorded music of our kids singing and sold for a donation. We had bake sales, sold candy and soda, had penny marches… And we just barely made it. Of course, we didn’t start getting serious with fundraising until April. Imagine if we had started sooner!
I know. I’m busy too. This is where you have to decide if it is a time investment that is as important to your child’s development as soccer, a trip to an amusement park, or a few days at home playing video games. Which brings us to the big question…
You probably knew by now that this was going to be my answer… Right?
There is something about getting this many kids together from different churches… (big emphasis on that last part, not just the kids from one church, but many…) Giving them a safe place to have fun, make new friends, and experience the outdoors… And then standing back and watching God bless them in a life changing way that will impact the rest of their lives. With no where to be the next day and no responsibilities to go home to each night, kids let all their worship out in chapel. Yes. Church camp is definitely worth it.
How can that be? How can I have suggestions to make it better and still say it is worth it?
Well, sit down and take a deep breath before you read this… My opinions of what would make it better have a whole lot more to do with those of us sending our kids up there, not those running the camp.
I know. Ouch. It is our fault that our kids are not getting more out of camp…