101 plus Ideas for the Local Church

101 Ideas to Excite the Local Church about Camping

Excite: Stir; Arouse; Stimulate; Inspire; Activate; Energize; Galvanize

We've had many requests for copies of the list developed for the 2005 National United Methodist Camp Leaders gathering, "101 Ways to Excite the Local Church about camping.  The list developed for that event follow.  But, you will have ideas that are not listed here (yet), so at the bottom of the page, there's a little form that will ask you to send in your best ideas. 


Follow the best practices of both Marketing and Fundraising Campaigns to build relationship and to invite participation.


  1. Never use this phrase again: “If they only knew we were here . . .”

  2. Know everything you can about the congregations you visit - children attending camp, local church statistics, congregational history.

  3. Know what you want to accomplish with every congregational contact; have a means of assessing the effectiveness of that contact.

  4. Call campers from a congregation before a visit and ask them to see you there.

  5. Have a camp praise band that can play for congregational events.

  6. Provide a counselor and camper ‘Camp Cheerleader Team’ to bring camp to church.

  7. Gather a “Sunday School” staff from your summer staff; teach all of the classes in Sunday school one week.  Have a special class for all of the adults who normally teach SS.

  8. Make visits to churches based upon highest potential for new campers.

  9. Offer a traveling Camp Rally to local churches or youth groups.

  10. Provide a Youth Bible with the camp name, logo, mission summary phrase on the front.

  11. Easy online or at church registration and credit card payment.

  12. Have a fall campfire for all campers in a congregation.

  13. Make a camp cd: songs, stories, sounds suitable as a gift to a camper.

  14. Produce a camp yearbook Video cd for free to go out to last summer’s campers at holiday time.

  15. Have campers send a letter to their (or another) congregation while at camp.

  16. Bulletin insert with discount coupon for store or registration.

  17. Highlight camp during Advent, RTC bulletin inserts, quick messages for newsletters.

  18. Ask local churches to link to your web site; give them the whole paragraph or graphic; send new text regularly.

  19. Have weekend events for potential new camper families.

  20. Have a professional photographer take an art photo of a classic camp scene; have it matted, framed and sold through the camp store as a ‘gift’ picture.  Charge enough to give a copy to each church in the AC.

  21. Offer a quality, adult, camp-overnight or weekend experience for parents who bring their children to camp.

  22. Have a camper or camper parent address the congregation along with you.  Persons may also be willing to visit a different congregation with you.

  23. Sell logo items in the camp store that have the potential for daily usage (clock, key fob, ruler, calculator, etc.).

  24. Send useful gifts to church offices.

  25. Send photos of every camper at camp to their local church; save a cd of photos to re-send to them in January.

  26. Offer Older Adult Nature Study Retreats: wild flowers (Consider the lilies of the field), birds (Look at the birds of the air), animal habitat (Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests), constellations (When I look at the Heavens).

  27. Bite size s’mores and video / dvd slides for coffee hour.

  28. Have unique but inexpensive Camp Logo give aways for local church visits.

  29. Traveling Christmas store; include the “gift of camp” and camperships.

  30. Approach local churches with an invitation to serve: “We Need You” camp as mission for church (work weekend, a mission experience addressing a neighborhood while housed at camp).

  31. Target large church or large youth group, work with the staff, and do whatever is required to get in front of them.

  32. Camp coloring book sheets for church / nursery .pdf on line.

  33. Partner with a local church to leverage the start of a children’s or youth ministry at the church.

  34. Offer, with camp registration, a first night parent sleep-away at camp – especially for parents of first time campers.

  35. Web camp games: treasure hunt on camp map.

  36. Favorite camp recipes online for church public dinners or covered dish meals.

  37. Offer Adult Camp during week or on weekend.

  38. Holiday or seasonal Family Event at camp (Advent, Harvest, Maple, Lent).

  39. Youth retreat offering with leader registration at no fee.

  40. “You’re Special”: recruit persons with special skills for work weekends.

  41. Hold a Youth Praise Music Campout at camp.

  42. Provide a week of camp for a large local church with 10% free just for financially challenged families.

  43. Youth at-church camp store with church bazaar.

  44. Provide camp inspirational stories that can be downloaded and printed in newsletters or bulletin inserts.

  45. Greeters / ushers in camp garb in target congregations.

  46. Collect (live or video) and share the testimonies of clergy who were called to ministry at camp.

  47. In everything, put the mission out front (in a phrase, like “Touching Hearts, Changing Lives and Sharing the Light of Jesus Christ” Camp Tekoa, Hendersonville, NC).

  48. Provide ways to make it easy for campers without church experience to participate.  Model this for the churches.

  49. Hold an Earth Day event, with a strong Scriptural base, showing the natural features of the site and the conservation measures that have been instituted.

  50. Camp is a sanctuary: build upon the spirituality with features like a Disciples Trail, a Labyrinth, a Meditation Bench, etc.

  51. With the Bishop/C.C.D./Cabinet involved as much as desired, offer Confirmation Camp.

  52. Upgrade the camp sign periodically and offer a camp sign refrigerator magnet.

  53. Partner with ethnic minority programs, independent congregations, special medical needs, organizations and social service agencies to help expand on the diversity of the camper population.

  54. Enlist a pastor of the week to provide chaplaincy services during the summer camp season.  Give them lots of publicity.  Quote their testimonies.

  55. Identify or invent the camp’s favorite cookie.  Give them away when visiting churches.

  56. Give a free prayer retreat for pastors at the seven-year marks.  Invite the church they serve to make a contribution in honor of the pastor.

  57. Offer to serve breakfast in bed: cinnamon buns and coffee/tea for adults on extra special occasions.  They’ll be talking about your camp forever!

  58. Don’t put in an RV site, but install the water/electricity hookups on the side of the parking area especially for volunteers, parents and Nomads.

  59. Become a favorite site for Nomads because of outrageous hospitality, fun projects and excellent preparedness.

  60. Bring your best ceremony (campfire) to churches.

  61. Offer a pet blessing on St. Francis Day (October 4).

  62. Increase camp budget by 4% and spend 5% of your budget on marketing.

  63. If you can’t get an invitation to a church you want to invite into participation, attend as a group from camp dressed in camp wear and talk with everyone about camp, giving away free cds that have live links to your website.

  64. Have a Teddy Bear Picnic at camp for little campers to be and their families.

  65. Give every new pastor a classy jacket or fleece shirt (they can’t help but wear) with a camp logo on it.

  66. Do the same for every new Bishop or D.S.

  67. Get your biggest fans (campers, counselors, parents, etc.) together for a special day at camp.  Treat them like royalty.  Set up a bank of phones and have them blitz the churches for camp registrations.

  68. Set and publicize goals for registration numbers.  Invite pastors, alumni, campers to help meet the goals.  Give them all the support they need.

  69. Solicit an invitation to have a group from camp come to a church for a no-impact campout on the church property.  Invite families to come for a taste of camp with s’mores, games, singing, campfire service, etc.

  70. Have a parent and child St Peter’s Catch and Release Fishing Day at camp with a prize for catching a tagged fish (donation from vendors).

  71. Send a camp calendar to all campers at Christmas with pictures from the previous summer.  Include significant registration dates, web address, etc.

  72. Buy the cover of the Conference Journal, put your best b&w camp picture on it.

  73. Plan for every decade or quarter century anniversary, sell pictures, plates, mugs, histories, cds, etc. and celebrate.

  74. Advertise open local church council retreat dates in AC paper.

  75. Ask the dean of the cabinet what the cabinet would require to have a day meeting or overnight (retreat or work) at your site.  Do whatever it takes to get them there, treat them really well, address them briefly, play a video/a camp cd, at a meal, write a conference article on their presence, quote them, etc.

  76. Hold a competition in the churches to develop a kid-designed camp book bag.

  77. Offer to have a camp team greet and usher at a church.  Trade-offs: insert from camp, greeting during announcements, address coffee hour group, visit a C.S. gathering or class.

  78. Pastor or Council Chair comes free to local church Council retreat at site.

  79. President of UMW comes free for local church UMW retreat at site.

  80. Sponsor a pizza party phone promotion, held at a local church, for camp registrations in the community.  If you do online registration (or pre-registration), have a/some computer(s) set up to process registrations.  Set a goal and celebrate the accomplishment.

  81. Build the site staff team into a healthy ‘family’ all versed in the mission of the site, having a responsibility for the spirit of hospitality, and knowing how to make guests from local churches feel welcome in appropriate ways.

  82. Treat all clergy, conference officers, volunteer leadership and guests from local churches as extended family with the same intentionality and skill.

  83. Identify twelve churches that need to be cultivated for campers and guest groups.  Approach one a month with a shower of contact and attention.

  84. Be sure that all publications that go to local churches have a common and recognizable style.

  85. Budget for marketing incentives and give-aways to use when approaching local churches.

  86. Give Bibles to all campers who need one.  Invite a church to partner to make this possible.

  87. Offer incentives to campers who “Bring a Friend” from their church, such as, the coolest t-shirt of the summer.

  88. Have a team prepared to bring a fun experience to a local church event, such as, a ‘Treasure Hidden in a Field’ pirate day with maps, clues and treasures (donated by local businesses).

  89. Identify your camp mascot.  Offer plush versions.  (A teddy bear with your camp name will stay close to a child’s heart.)  Bring one to each church you visit as a ‘pew buddy’ - quiet toy that waits for the child that finds it difficult to be quiet in church.

  90. Give your site a new “under new management” look with relatively inexpensive upgrades to finishes, etc.  Don’t ignore the portal, and entry landscaping.  In the churches, advertise the new quality offered.

  91. Send a note to the major local church officers inviting them to use the camp for day use or a retreat.

  92. Be sure that your office person knows each church secretary by name.

  93. Be on a first name basis with the AC and district chairs of the Boards of Ministry.  Talk with these persons (mostly local church clergy) about campers/staff who responded to a call to ministry at camp.

  94. Partner with leaders of local pastor’s licensing school to host the event to get new local pastors on site as early as possible.

  95. If you have a camp dog that is really good with children, feature it on your website and offer to bring your camp dog on local church visits to greet the children.

  96. Invite a top-notch local church historian to update the camp history.  Publish with high quality appearance and make it broadly available, sending one to each church.

  97. Send a really nice oversized picture postcard to each church with a greeting at a few crucial times during the year, inviting the staff to put it on the bulletin board.

  98. Use a database to keep track of previous local church group registrations so you can follow up on them by post card, phone call, email, etc. to invite another group retreat.

  99. Provide an interesting guest map, with graphics and ‘camp culture’ features.  Invite each church to post one.

  100. Pick a CS class, of your youngest camper age group, and arrange to visit them with an invitation to come to camp in a group.

  101. Hold a local church favorite recipes competition to come up with new menu/baked goods items for the camp.  Staff decides which ones to try.  The campers decide the winners.

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