Matt Jackson asked me my thoughts on comparing Student Life summer camps and BigStuf summer camps.
I’ll start off by saying that I think that both are top notch organizations and you can’t really go wrong with either. I’ve carried groups a bunch of times to the Student Life Tour and never was disappointed. And one year we went to the Student Life camp at Covenant College. With BigStuf I went as a college leader back in 1994, and then I’ve carried a group of my own every year since 1997.
Again, you can’t go wrong if you’re trying to decide between the two. BUT…if I was having to choose between the two, I’d probably choose BigStuf (I guess I have since I’ve gone 10 years in a row!) But here are a few thoughts:
- I think BigStuf is the best combination of teaching, worship, and fun. It’s located right on the beach @ Panama City Beach with lots to do literally right out side the door of your room. With Student Life, their camps are spread out all over the country in some really good locations. It was beautiful on top of Lookout Mountain when we went.
- The schedule at BigStuf is a lot more relaxed than the schedule at StudentLife. At Student Life breakfast starts at 6:45 vs. 7:30 at BigStuf. And BigStuf breakfast is not mandatory. Most of my students go, but not all. Also the first “meeting” of the day is 9:15 at BigStuf vs. 8:15 at Student Life.
- There is more free time at BigStuf as far as the afternoons. But this year our “free time” was full of the tournaments our church was involved in. We did quite well in Ultimate Frisbee, Volleyball, and Basketball. But that was our “rec” time. At Student Life, there are scheduled recreation times where everyone participates. And afternoon free time seemed much shorter.
- At Student Life there were quiet times in the morning w/ your youth group where they were more individual times in the afternoon at BigStuf. I see the value in both of these…
- Each camp has a time for your church group scheduled in there.
- Student Life has the kids split up in to “Family Groups”. BigStuf does not. I think it’s kinda cool that Student Life does that. And they have adults from church groups to lead these. Cool stuff.
- Both camps have good teachers and worship leaders. I’ve actually seen some of the same teachers and worship leaders be at both camps during the same summer even.
- Randy Hall and Lanny Donoho are both visionary leaders w/ a great camp. Both guys have done exceptionally well with what God’s built through their efforts.
- Student Life does seem to be a little cheaper, but not tons.
- I’m not sure about all of them, but I notice that at some of the Student Life Beach Camps you have to drive to and from the meeting place and the hotel. At BigStuf…it’s all w/in a couple of hundred yards.
Anyway, I think they both have the edge in different departments. One thing Matt asked about was the Mission Experience that Student Life has in some of its camps. BigStuf does not have that as a part of their program, so they’re absent of that.
And I don’t want it to sound like I like BigStuf better just because there is more free time and you can sleep a little later (though it is nice). But the one year I was a Student Life, the overall schedule seemed a little too tight. Like you were always moving from one thing to the next w/ hardly a break. But some people really like this because it wears the kids out and they get to sleep quicker at night!
But…either way you go, you can’t go wrong. Both are being used by God to touch the lives of both students AND adults!
Well, I’ve been back for 2 days now. And no posts. I’ve been catching up on life. We made it back Wednesday night and I went to be early for the first time in a week. Early being about 11. I was usually up to 1:30 or 3:00am at BigStuf…and wouldn’t trade it. But yesterday was catching up on receipts and budget stuff and some odds and ends at the office.
Today is a day just to be around. Went to the gym already. Now about to listen to MSU play Clemson in the Starkville Super Regional.
But…BigStuf. I will give a day by day redux over the next couple of days. But a few general observations:
- Again, from my experiences there is not another camp around as good as BigStuf. They have the best organization, teaching, worship, and location to make a complete package.
- The BigStuf interns are Godly college students that really make it happen. Whether it’s running tech, leading groups, managing the rec tournaments, or working in the store…they make it happen. And w/o them camp really just wouldn’t be possible.
- Lanny Donoho‘s vision for camp is a good one
- Brian Pirkle and Sheila Benton know how to organize and administrate. They are the backbone of BigStuf.
- Barry stayed away…got cloudy a few times and saw a few drops. But no real showers, much less storms.
- We carried 68 people and brought all of them back. There might have been a few I wanted to leave…just kidding.
- The BigStuf Band was good as always.
- I learned some new songs that are STUCK in my head. But it’s not a bad thing. More on them later.
- I continue to be impressed w/ Jared Herd.
- Louie Giglio‘s 2nd talk made me cry. Dude is a conduit for God. No doubt.
- Our volleyball, basketball, and ultimate fris teams did well. Advanced far. But didn’t win it all. But it was the best showing we’d ever had.
- Reggie Joiner has a very wise and strategic mind when it comes to ministry. His adult leader meetings were great.
- Taking a charter bus is almost always the best way to go. Expensive? Yes. Worth it? Most def.
- Maurice is the best bus driver ever.
That’s a quick overview. Will try to go day by day w/ the next posts.
[tags]bigstuf, youth trip, panama city beach, xp3[/tags]
So I’m all packed. I think everything is in order. Tomorrow morning I’ll wake up to my cell phone and grab a shower while it’s still dark. I’ll drive to the church and get there in time to unlock and begin to set up a few tables in the gym. I won’t doubt it if a couple of people beat me there. I plan on getting there around six and six thirty is our meeting time.
But after that…it’s wide open. The bus should get there a little before 6:30. Hopefully we can get everyone checked in, forms figured out, and prayed over before 7am. If it doesn’t happen…no huge deal. We scheduled in some cushion time.
But the anticipation is growing. I talked to Matthew Creekmore last night. He grew up in my old youth group. Now he’s a BigStuf Intern. He’s been setting up the stage area and all the bells and whistles down there. He says it’s very impressive. Can’t wait to see it.
I’m just hoping Barry is nice to us while we’re down there.
Oh, and I hope to give you some video!
[tags]BigStuf, church camp, Louie Giglio, Jared Herd, Reggie Joiner, Panama City Beach, Barry[/tags]
This is one of the most hilarious videos I’ve seen in quite a while.
Done by some of the guys out at Saddleback.
So now we’re at 3 or 4 days away from going to BigStuf….depending on how you’re counting. But we’re leaving on Saturday. This will be the TENTH summer in a row that I’ve taken a group down. That in and of itself should tell you how highly I think of this organization.
Our worship will be led by the BigStuf Band and Jared Herd and Louie Giglio will be doing the speaking. Jared is not known far and wide, but he knows how to bring it. I’ve been able to hear him a couple of times already at BigStuf and have never been disappointed. And this guy named Giglio…well let’s just say that he really knows how to bring it too.
From my experience, BigStuf is probably one of the, if not THE, best camp I’ve ever carried kids too. It provides the best combination of worship, teaching, and fun. The crew that puts this all together is very professional and wows me every time I’m there. Never been disappointed.
I used to want to keep it a secret because I didn’t want the summer to get to crowded. That was back when I fist started coming and they had only four weeks of camp in the summer. I could fax in my registration in April and pretty much get the week I wanted.
Now the have TEN weeks of camp and registration starts in OCTOBER! And things are mostly full by January! It’s grown. But it’s grown because it’s a quality camp experience and God’s blessed them for following after Him.
So…please pray for us while we’re gone. I’m going to try to do some updates while we’re away!