Finding the right balance of “up time” and “down time” for teenagers can be exceptionally difficult. Particularly in a culture where kids are regularly bombarded with stimulation. So, while you want your camp attendees to be engaged I would recommend banning electronics (cell phones, MP3 players, laptops, etc) to allow your attendees to focus on why they are there, specifically on strengthening their relationship with the Lord. Another important thing to consider are the unique rest needs of the average teenager. The average teen needs roughly nine hours of sleep a night, but their bodies don’t start to signal that it’s time to go to sleep until around 11 pm because of the hormonal changes their bodies are going through. You can read more at the Mayo Clinic website.
Because of this unique combination of physical needs, glow in the dark night games are a great way to engage your camp attendees. They provide the opportunity for teens to fellowship with one another while still addressing the unique needs their bodies have. In addition to the night games activities linked above a more traditional camp fire, sing along, and/or s’mores event is another fun activity for youth! As with all food, make sure that the snacks you serve are something everyone can enjoy.
Having a late night (especially for the adult youth leaders) play games would ideally mean having morning to sleep in under normal circumstances, but at youth camp, this isn’t always the case! Here at Christian Camp Pro we have an excellent archive of past youth camp games including 4 fun activities for teens at summer camp and 7 Christian youth camp games that your teens will enjoy. Having activities that keep your teens active and engaged throughout the day may also make those nights slightly less late.
Tying your activities into your theme is also a great way for your attendees to learn more about the Gospel particularly that the message of Jesus Christ is good news and it’s okay to have fun with it at the same time! Some other activities you can use to engage teens in the retreat include service projects, talent shows, or arts and crafts.
As you plan your activities, you may also want to consider how you want to conduct them. Are you breaking your attendees into teams somehow? You can divide people by age group, congregation, or if you are having a multi-year event you could divide your attendees into “first year” “second year” and so forth. Dividing up your campers into teams could also facilitate unique ideas that will really engage your attendees on the spot. We recently published a guide to planning great youth camp activities that goes over this in detail.
Overall, the most important thing to remember when planning activities for your youth camp is to keep it fun, stay within your theme, and help your attendees draw closer to Christ.