While the first two posts of this series focused more on the spiritual aspects of your youth camp, we do live in a temporal world and considering money and budgeting appropriately is important. It is also important to accept that we currently live in tougher economic times and the parents of your attendees are not likely to have extra money to send their children to camp. With this, one of the first discussions you have with your camp team needs to be a conversation about money. Deciding where you want to hold the event, any special speakers you may want to invite, how you want to market your event, and other factors are critical to deciding how much you want to spend on the retreat. There will be more discussion about these topics in coming posts.
Fundraising is likely going to be a critical part of the financial plan for your camp and if it’s not, it should be. Nothing invests teens more in an experience than having to pay for it. Previously, we have posted some great suggestions for fundraising that include a fundraiser party, parent’s night out, and car washes. One of the most successful fundraisers I did as a teenager was to host a parent’s night out event that included dinner, babysitting, and music. Not only was the event very successful but it utilized the talents of the young women in my congregation as we all had interest and experience in caring for children, cooking, or playing an instrument. We also gained new skills as we served the couples attending the event.
One of the most important considerations when working out your financial strategy with your camp team is going to be the venue you choose. Do you want your youth to have a camp experience in the wilderness? There are a wide variety venues where you could have this experience. Everything from campgrounds to environmental centers can give your youth the “outdoorsy” experience you want them to have. Do you want your camp to be more focused on spiritual matters? Well then, a hotel or conference center might be a better venue. Or maybe you want to have a youth retreat that is designed more like a mission trip and travel far from home is involved. All of these options include different things (food, beds, etc.) and different costs are associated with them.
Finally, if you want to invite a special guest how much is it going to cost for that person to come to your camp? Are there sponsorship opportunities available? There are some motivational speakers who will work with your organization to speak for free because it gives them exposure to new markets.
Regarding budgeting and developing a financial plan for your camp, it is important to have a practical view of what your target audience is able to provide and what kind of experience you want to give them.