About Us and How It Works
Church camp leaders may find themselves acting as educator, guidance counselor, maintenance person, mentor, or song leader—sometimes all at the same time. You are also the embodiment of Christ Jesus to others longing to know God’s love. This can feel overwhelming, but as people of God we know that our great responsibility is matched by an even greater potential. The Spirit will guide you, your staff, and the campers in your work while the prayers of many cheer you on.
For this work you need to have the skills of a teacher, the comfort of a parent, and the wisdom of an elder. This curriculum is here to support you in that work. You will find in the pages ahead biblical theology done by scholars (who are also camp leaders), activities designed to help you share the Bible stories, games and projects that reinforce ideas and skills, and a whole lot of fun!
What is Included
Each year we produce a unique product that has 5 age groups of activities which provide about 2 hours of faith formation content ever day. You also receive 7 days of worship resources with special sections for youth and children or intergenerational campers. Beyond the formation and worship sections, InsideOut includes crafts, games, science and nature, challenge course, and multi-day project resources.
You don’t have to be a Bible scholar or pastor to talk about your faith. We hope staff will be part of the conversation with campers so everyone can grow, and we want staff feel less anxious about leading the conversation. Specifically, for staff, we provide overviews of the scripture and themes, along with daily devotions. There are even some quick videos for those who come on board late or learn better by listening.
On top of these resources you will find “Table Talk” (table tents) with questions for meal-time, recommendations for books, movies, and songs that support the theme, art files for marketing and t-shirts, and suggestions for how to adapt the themes for shorter weeks of camp.
Here are some of the extras social media has allowed us to start providing with our newer products:
- Spotify Playlists for before, during, and after camp
- Facebook Group for questions and sharing ideas
- Take-home work sheets with activities and prayers for the whole family
- Downloadable resource packet for local congregations
- Pinterest Page for extra crafty ideas
The goals and expectations for faith formation at camp are different from program to program, and different campers have very different needs. InsideOut is intentional in covering a wide breadth of scripture that includes Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and New Testament passages. We also know that some campers are ready to diver deeper into familiar stories while others are hearing them for the first time. InsideOut provides activities that allow campers to engage the story, however they encounter it, and share their experiences of God together.
There is something special about being in the outdoors and living in community. We know that whatever curriculum is used, creation and community are partners in teaching. Our activities are designed to push campers to explore both and reflect on how God is speaking to them. Daily Activities and Daily Worship sections of the curriculum can be done just about anywhere but the assume you are outside!
Attention to Inclusivity
The diversity of God’s creation extends to our campers and families. We know that outdoors is not the natural habitat for all our campers, and we are sensitive to those unfamiliar with the setting. Coming from different backgrounds, all campers should find a safe and warm welcome at camp. We are intentional about creating activities and experiences that are affirming of all God’s people. Diverse images of God, appropriate language for ethnic identities, and words that do not devalue the humanity of a person for physical or emotional differences are important. This is equally important to issues of gender identity and expression. Allowing space for campers to share their own identity rather than label them is crucial to supporting their personal growth and spiritual journey. However a camper arrives at camp, and however they understand themselves, we want them to know they are a beloved child of God.
History and Partners
For many years, a team of representatives at the National Council of Churches gave oversight to the creation of a summer camp curriculum. They eventually started using the name, “New Earth Publishing” and rotated publishing houses among various denominational partners. It was all volunteer run and supported the work of camps for many years. Like most volunteer projects, it was a great gift that everyone new had potential to be even better. This project was the “seed” for InsideOut.
In 2013 something new burst forth. Chalice Press offered the project a permanent home and a writing process that included paid editors and writers with a passion for faith formation and outdoor ministry. This process paired with the committed denominational representatives and camp professionals produced a curriculum with more activities and a broader scope of resources than could be previously imagined. This was the beginning of InsideOut Camp Curriculum, which launched its ministry through the appropriately named curriculum, “All Things New.”
Partners from the Presbyterian Church USA, Church of the Brethren, United Methodist Church, United Church of Christ, and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) worked together to support InsideOut and eventually were joined by representatives of the Episcopal Church. Partners from the Lutheran Church (ELCA) and Baptist communities have also been part of the ongoing conversation and partnership that shapes InsideOut.
In 2018, the Editorial Board of InsideOut began looking at research results from the “Effective Camp” study directed by Jacob Sorenson. We continue to work with partners, ecumenically and in the professional camping world, to produce a curriculum that will shape the faith of campers and staff for years to come, allowing God to change us from the Inside-Out.