The intent of this curriculum is to provide a resource for camping ministry that will both challenge and inspire the youth of our church. It will contain both inspirational experiences and intellectual content. We must find a new way to teach our faith beyond the overly-simplified approaches that either only teach faith as an intellectual learning process or teach it simply as an emotional feel-good experience. There is a middle ground! This is particularly true of this year’s theme: “Bible.”
The Bible is a complex piece of writing that has both been used to unify and divide the church. It as also become an unknown entity in the lives of most youth and even adults over the years. This curriculum will attempt to reclaim our sacred text through experiential learning about and with this document we call the Bible. Our youth will explore in part the complex nature of the Bible development with room for diversity of understanding in the interpretation of this history. They will experience a multitude of “Bible Study” and reflection approaches that will give them the skills and desire to take advantage of a text too-often neglected by many Christians.
The material following is challenging but we believe it is time that we begin to acknowledge the great spiritual and intellectual potential of our youth. We believe that the ideas and concepts expressed in this curriculum are indeed a new approach to church camp curriculum. We hope that it will be used, constructively evaluated and reinvented for years to come.
A word about Groups (J E P D Q M): These letters have been chosen for groups for two major reasons: First, J E P D Q M are all letters that refer to sources or faith communities who wrote part of the bible. These sources will be dealt with in more detail later this week. Second, these letters cannot be understood in a hierarchical or “Better” concept. In other words, whereas A, B, C can and often are understood as first group, second group and so on, these letters have the appearance of being random and unique or
A word about how to do small groups: On MONDAY each group does small group on their own (NOTE TO DIRECTOR: It would be helpful if the counselors have already experienced this lesson during counselor orientation on Sunday night). As for some of the other days there are two options for small group time: 1) continue with small groups on their own similar to Monday, or, 2) [Recommended] try a “Learning Center” approach in which groups move from one learning center to another. (More details below)
A Word about how to do Morning Watch: Morning watch can be done by individual villages/cabins or in one large group. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Morning watch is a good starter for the day… It introduces the theme or can be the only time in which campers have for quiet and reflective time in the fast-paced schedule of camp.
The Week At A Glance
Monday: Today the main objective is to build community and introduce the theme. Through the keynote and small groups the youth will begin to reflect on Scripture from a realistic beginning – a beginning that takes seriously their lack of knowledge of Scripture. The hope is to build a connection with their own past stories of camp (oral tradition) and the original purpose of Scripture. IF The youth can see Scripture as stories once shared within a community of believers like themselves then maybe they will be able to open their hearts and minds to the value of the stories that are hidden in this book called the Bible.
Tuesday: The goal for today is the help the youth begin to understand the Bible as a people’s testimony of how they experienced God and felt called to share those perspectives. Following from the first goal the hope is that the youth will see some similarities between this ancient community of believers (who felt called to share their perspectives) and our faith community at camp (and feel called themselves to share their own understandings and perspectives of God with each other). The Bible is not the product of one persons experience but of many people’s experience of God in their world. When they really dig into scripture they will notice some stories that seem to be told more than once. In their small groups the youth will dig into a few stores that tell of the same event but with different perspectives. The hope again is the youth through understanding that scripture speaks from different perspectives on God (And that is OK) they too will feel not only comfortable sharing their perspectives of God but might feel as compelled as the ancient writers of Scripture to share their perspectives and experiences.
Wednesday: Today the youth and possibly even a few adults will be exposed to the process of how the Bible came to be as it is today… from oral tradition to the written text we have today. We will attempt to accomplish this through learning centers in which the youth become archeologists and canon scholars for a day and go about the same process that created the Bible as we know it. Many Christians, unless they enter a seminary or have other opportunity rarely ever hear about this process and yet the writers of this material believe it to be foundational. This could be a very exciting day and also a critical day. Your job will be to make sure that this information is productive to the youth and their faith and not destructive. The youth deserve to know this information about the Bible and the intent is to provide, once again, more details about the Bible in the hope that through honest discussion about it they might come to use it…and even value it!
Thursday: The Goal for today is to help provide the youth with a few more tools to actually use this resource and sacred text we call “The Bible”. Too often “Bible Study” for youth is synonymous with “snoring.” We hope that after today the youth will become aware of a variety of different ways to take advantage of the Bible. They may not resonate with all of them but hopefully at least one will have an impact. Today is essentially the “Application Day”!
Friday: The main objective today will be one final attempt to help the youth see the connection between their own stories of God and the faith community and the stories of Scripture. The hope is that they will finally see that Scripture stories are just that; stories told by people like themselves who believed in God and lived in a community like the community we build at the Christian Conference Center and at their local church. The hope is that through the connection our youth will come to value and even become interested in learning more about our Christian stories passed on to us through the written words of Scripture. We will accomplish this through the making of a new book for the “Bible” called the Book of “INSERT CAMP NAME” (which will include both their memories of this year at camp and their version of their most valued Scripture stories.) Today will end with affirmation activities in our small group to reaffirm the community and stories of love that we have built upon all week long and have been handed down to us in Scripture itself.
Saturday: Pack up and say Goodbyes…
To read the full curriculum, download the attached files.