Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Doctor of Ministry DMin
A. Allan Martin
Large amounts of time and effort are expended by youth directors in providing camp related opportunities for employment. It is widely hoped by these youth directors that the experience of being a camp staff person will increase spirituality among the staff, that it will strengthen their identification with the Seventh-day Adventist church, and that, in the future, these same staff members will desire more opportunities to serve in the mission of the church. The purpose of this project is to qualitatively study whether staff are affected positively or negatively in the ways mentioned above, by being staff members of Camp SonPower in the Ohio Conference during the summer of 2008.
A study of the Scriptures was made to ascertain the attitudinal changes that young Bible heroes went through as a result of working in the service of God. Reference was made to the experience of early Adventist leaders who were themselves young when they started the Adventist church. Current literature was reviewed in the areas of leadership training and its intended and actual results. Literature in the theory of learning by doing was also reviewed. Special attention was paid to day camp operations and the literature available on staff training and the hoped-for outcomes for the staff. A survey consisting of three sections, one for each of the identified growth areas, was administered to the staff of Camp SonPower (a traveling, one-week day camp), at the beginning and at the end of the summer camping season in the Ohio Conference. The comparison of these surveys yielded the attitudinal changes that occurred in the staff after being a part of a Camp SonPower team for a summer. A staff training manual was created to prepare staff for their responsibilities. The training manual consisted of a leader’s guide, a staff training workbook, and a guide for the local church participating in Camp SonPower.
The comparison of the two surveys (pre and post camp) revealed a variety of reactions and attitudinal shifts. There were some for whom being a staff member with Camp SonPower was “just a job.” Others looked for and found the hand of God, grasped it, and consequently reported increased desire to continue working with Him. The creation of a staff manual for training SonPower staffers was a helpful tool in preparing the teams for their assignments. It provided clarity on mission, living conditions, job descriptions, and ideas for doing the work. This manual will be useful in replicating SonPower’s training experience elsewhere.
Providing Camp SonPower not only aids the local church in its efforts to reach out to children and young families, it also provides a summer job for some of the older young people in the church. The hand of God can be seen influencing the lives and attitudes of SonPower staff members who are open to Him. It has to be more than money that staff members are after if they want to see changes in their lives. Their attitude at the beginning most often will determine what they get out of the experience of being a staff member in a day camp like SonPower.
Day Camps; Camping; Church work with youth--Seventh-day Adventists; Youth--Religious life
Stevenson, Michael J., "Evaluating the Effectiveness of Summer Day Camp in the Local Church as an Opportunity To Encourage Youth in Their Spiritual Growth, Church Identity, and Service" (2009). Dissertation Projects DMin. 547.
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