The Origin Story
In case you missed it, here’s how Holy Ground: A Guide for Summer Camp Staff was born.
#Throwback. It’s spring 2022. Most camp leaders are in the throes of things like staff recruiting, summer program prep, and area church visits. The Sacred Playgrounds team had finalized the prior summer’s reports along with the last steps of a project designed to understand more about the motivations, experiences, and future vocational steps of summer camp staff.
That Camp and Church Leadership Project confirmed some things we already knew, and shed light on priorities when it comes to these staff who are the heart of your summer ministry – the ones who execute the vision and share both Jesus and themselves with your campers. It showed us camp staff need a few things to thrive, and one of them is support – they need support throughout the summer beyond and in addition to pre-summer training.
At the same time, Jake got a call from our friend Gretchen Bachman, a long-time multi-site camp leader (who you can listen to on last week’s podcast), with an idea to create a devotion for summer staff. A few conversations later, we realized two things: there was almost no way we had time, it being already mid-March, to pull it off, and we had to make it happen anyway.
Same Process, Kinder Timeline
We followed nearly the same creative and collaborative process for the 2022 and this year’s 2023 edition of Holy Ground. Here are the steps we take to create this resource.
- Vision. Like we wrote a few weeks ago, answering the questions why and who are the first steps anytime you create, well, anything. So we meet and center in on why we thought God wanted us to do this. We wonder, decide, and then act. This second edition included some rich conversation about what we learned from last year’s process and feedback. We also frame up how it will look and feel with a people-centered mindset, focused on their experience and what they need when they need it.
- Collaboration. The heart of Holy Ground is in the devotions. 12 weeks of rich, yet quick and accessible reading with an easy-to-follow framework: Scripture + Reflection + Question + Takeaway. What makes it magic is that every devotion is written for camp staff, by camp staff, whether that’s currently working at camp folks or former summer staff. These devotions are edited and organized into their most relevant, impactful spot in the summer.
- Content. The front and back of the book is packed with foundations for outdoor ministry, training supplements, and ongoing resources. The 2023 edition included much of the same foundations with a healthy refresh. We also use the content to inform the next step.
- Design. Jared from our Sacred Playgrounds team takes all of the above and puts it together like a puzzle. This first draft is checked for flow and overall design, then edited. The next draft is proofed and sent to the printer to ensure that the process will be smooth. Then we have a final round of edits before the final copy is sent.
- Print + Send. We intentionally work with a small, local printer who cares about ministry to print and spiral-bind the books. Once we get them, the living room turns into a packing and shipping center before they hit your mailbox.
In 2022, we did this all that just over a month! The 2023 edition was blessed with a longer timeline beginning last fall and continuing until they are in the hands of each one of your summer (and year-round) staff.
Our hope is simple. We hope camp staff will feel deeply supported throughout their journey for the sake of their own spiritual and mental health and for the sake of ministry at your camp. We’re finding that both the individual and the ministry thrive when your summer staff are well-supported.
If supporting summer staff with a guide like this sounds interesting, learn more and pre-order your copies below.