Friday, December 16, 2011

Take A Seat: Helping Get Kids To Camp

A guest post from Niki Crowe, volunteer YL leader in Clarksville, TN.

I was a freshman in high school. My Young Life leader and friends were all standing around a charter bus getting ready to head to Rockbridge, VA. I was nervous because my leader told me to come with bags ready although I had not raised enough money to go to camp. I had maybe raised half of the $500. When I arrived she simply told me to “take a seat."

I was 14, did not raise nearly enough money to go to Young Life camp, but for some reason I was able to pack my belongings and join my friends on the bus. During this trip to Rockbridge in 2002, I fell in love with Jesus sitting on a bench overlooking the lake.

Now I'm a volunteer leader, and as camp approaches I can now see Jesus working the magic he did while I was a student. This year I had four high school friends want to go to winter camp at Sharptop Cove, but they simply didn't have the money. For winter camp we did not have many opportunities to raise money as for summer. Jesus put these girls on my heart, but as a recent college graduate, with tons of student debt, I had no idea where the Lord was going to give me the $400 we needed!

Their friends were coming and I could visually see one girl isolate herself from other girls because she was embarrassed when they would all talk about excitement for camp. I prayed. Then I tried to orchestrate an impromptu garage sale that failed. And so I prayed some more. I made calls to ask friends and family to sponsor the girls, but they had promised money other places. So, I prayed some more. A little more than a week before camp I still felt the Lord telling me these girls needed to go.

I went to my last resort. Facebook. I simply asked. Feeling like a fool right when I pushed submit, I wrote it off as another failed attempt. But the Lord had other plans. Within ten minutes I had a private message from a girl in our town that had $400 she was praying for a place to send. Are you kidding me?!

The Lord is so faithful and good to us. I was able to tell those girls when they arrived to the bus to “take a seat.” During that weekend they heard about a God who loves them and wants to be in a relationship with them.

I am not advertising we all go on facebook and send out requests but I want to encourage all leaders to keep praying and seeking the Lord. If he is telling you a certain child should go to camp, keep seeking providence.

Fundraising Ideas That Have Worked

– Why not.

Bake Sale – Before high school sporting events.

Garage Sale – have each student donate items. And also allow for a little more than a week to get together.

Odd Jobs – popular idea for summer camp. Ask people in your community to allow students to come into their homes and do odd jobs around the house then donate money for their time. Typically $50-$100

Local Farmers Markets – depending on the state some place will let non-profits set up a bake sale booth for very cheap.

Run a Race – training for a 5K or marathon with your students can be wonderful contact work and with enough time you could raise good money with donations per mile.

What other fund raising ideas have worked for you? Please comment below.

Related Post:
The Best Fundraiser Ever


  1. A great idea i found is
    if you wanted to raise 10,000 dollars and had a 100 kids, each kid would only have to sell 10 candles!

    1. Thanks a ton for that suggestion! Sounds like a winner. I just ordered a packet of information.

  2. We've gotten foundation grants for deep fryers and a concession trailer (foundations will give to "things" more than general YL). There are quite a few festivals in the area we set up a booth at. We sell cheese sticks, french fries, chicken tenders, pepper poppers (all from Sam's), along with our big sellers, Texas Tenderloins, Chicken Breast Sandwich (from local food guy) and Blooming Onions (we make). Super healthy!

    Along with drinks, we can rake in a few thousand dollars profit in a weekend. At 3 or 4 festivals per year, depending on the weather, we bring in $5,000-$10,000 per years have been over 10k. Sign kids up to work ahead of time (not too many), pay $10/hr or profit divided by total kid hours.

    It's great leader/kid time, teaches them teamwork, dealing with difficult people, earning money versus getting a handout, and it's fun doing it with friends. It gives leaders a chance to lead. It does take time with setup and cleanup, and it's all weekend.

    If you had some quality food items with pretty good profit per sale, the right festivals could bring in some good money. Some YL friends we know hooked up with a local BBQ place and made $3600 at their first festival selling BBQ pulled pork and chicken sandwiches.

    Food for thought. (pun definitely intended)