Continue the Conversation


This article was written by Clay Staires, Tulsa Leadership Trainer, Motivational Speaker & Founder of Tulsa’s #1 Leadership Program, The Leadership Initiative. You can find more information at Shepherd’s Fold Ranch.

Dear Camper Parents,

Here’s the classic scene:

You’re returning home from camp in your car. You look in the rearview mirror and see your child’s face beaming, yet very sleepy. You ask “So, how was camp?” “Great!” comes the reply. You respond, “What did you do?” “All kinds of stuff.” “What did you learn”, you ask as you try to get to the meat of the matter. “Can we talk later, I’m really tired”, is the reply. Unfortunately, later never really materialized.

Another scenario (and this is how it usually is for me): I can see that my child has had an amazing time at camp. I can tell that something has… changed… in their heart. I want to talk with them about it and hear them explain to me what has happened over the week. However, I feel like there’s such a chasm between there experience and my ability to discuss it with them. I just don’t know what all they did or what they’ve been talking about so all I can do is ask “What did you talk about”. And, boom, I’m right back to the scene mentioned above! Ah! Can you relate to this? Something really good has just gone on with my child, but I don’t know how to “get to” what it is!

I want to offer you some tools and resources to help you CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION that has been started at camp. These conversations center around each of our daily teaching themes so the language and content should be fairly familiar to your child. I’ll also include some of the activities that the kids do and the purpose we have chosen those activities. FUN is very important, but make no mistake, we have deliberately positioned activities during the week to teach and to challenge your kids. I want you to have this “Behind The Scenes” perspective so you can use them to help you and your child talk about what they have experienced.


Before, we jump into this, please understand that, although your child has just had a life changing encounter with God, it doesn’t mean they will be able to explain it to you. They probably don’t even know “what happened”. They just know how they FEEL. At a young age, “feelings” are our drivers. Our kids haven’t yet learned the fine art of reason and logic that we adults use to override our feelings. (Yes, that was a little stab! Sorry. I just want to bring that up. Reason and logic are very important as we grow, but at the end of the day, we have to deal with our “feelings” that can often seem so… hard to get a handle on. So, be careful not to downplay the power of emotion for yourself or for your kids. There, I said it.)

So, it’s OK to talk with them about their feelings. In fact, this is the best place to begin! At a young age, feelings make up our reality. As we grow, we learn how to embrace emotion, but we also need to learn the balance between “what we feel” and “what is truth”. But let it begin with their hearts… we can get to their minds later.

Make sure you fill in these conversations with a lot of your personal stories and examples to help your child connect with the you. The content is very good, but it’s only as good as their ability to connect with it and apply it. Personal stories are great for this. You tell a story about yourself and then highlight the areas you want to connect with by asking “have you ever felt that” or “have you ever done that” or “are you like me, have you ever….”.

Let’s begin…

Shepherds Fold Ranch Summer Camp 2012

Daily Camp Teaching Themes

Shepherd’s Fold Ranch’s (SFR) summer teaching theme is for the entire camp. We believe that the unity in the theme will increase the unity in our summer staff. These teachings will be progressive through the week and will remain in line with the teaching styles from the previous summer’s programs.

Day Camp (DC) and Treehouse Village (THV) teaching programs focus on the TRUTH of scripture and the character of God. For these ages it is imperative to teach them at their level and to not introduce any new conflicts that they may not be aware of. JUST STICK TO THE TRUTH… it will set you free! The TRUTH is that God loves you! At camp, we don’t need to introduce them to the confusion between that truth and the lies that are in my head telling me that He doesn’t. Just stick to the truth!

Ranch Camp, Teen Camp, and Forerunner focus will be expanded to include conflicts between what the truth is and how that truth is twisted by the enemy in an effort to keep us from the Lord (conflict and discouragement).

The following is the breakdown of the daily teaching themes and how they will work together to support our common theme of “The Amazing Race”. These daily themes will be used for all aspects of our daily teachings from encounters to cabin talks. Without further ado….Lets Start the Race!

Sunday- The Amazing Race

Hebrews 12: 1-2

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with PERSERVERANCE the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning it’s shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

The journey begins NOW so let’s get on with it. We all have our “race” that God has given us to run.

It’s a long distance event not a sprint so we will need to take steps in order to run effectively. Ask them if any of them have ever run a race? How bout a long race? The main thing to remember is that Jesus has already run the race AND HE’S WON IT! Our part now is to simply run with Him and HE will take us to victory! He runs with us and encourages us and sets our pace. Don’t try to be “The Rabbit” and get out there in the lead. Run with Him! Hey, and you know what’s cool? He even knows when to stop and take a rest for a while, when to walk and when to sprint!


Monday- The Race History

-“Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses”

Others have run before us and run well…These are the great “cloud” of witnesses. Be sure to explain what CLOUD means here. It can be confusing.

Supporting Scripture: Take a step back to chapter 11 and pick 3 of your favorite “Heroes of Faith” and briefly explain why they had favor with God and outline that it was not because they were perfect!

Through those struggles they left us a training manual on how to run the race effectively (The Bible) know the manual…it will make your run more purposeful.

We are not the first to run this race. This is good. Try to add some personal touch at the very beginning. If you’re a runner, you may read Runners World (have some copies to show). Use other possible magazines for different interests. Then introduce the Bible as the resource for learning about Christianity.

Also, this would be a good place to introduce a personal story about someone that you have looked up to as a role model (hero) as you’ve grown up… a parent, grandparent, pastor, athlete, star… then tie it back to the heroes in chapter 11.

Start with personal to help them connect with YOU, then lead them to the Bible. Going straight to the Bible may be a bit abstract for them.

Invitation- Who wants to be more like these heroes of faith by trusting in God’s plans more?

Take Away 1- The Cloud is there for encouragement not judgment

Take Away 2- These Heroes of Faith were not perfect…but they never gave up and never quit the race

Take Away 3- they left us a training manual (the Bible) if you don’t know it…your run (life journey) will be more difficult.

Cabin talk discussion- how can we use the examples of these witnesses to help us in our daily life? Who are your role models? Let’s look at who these guys are in Heb. 11. Do you know them? Which of their stories do you like the most? What do you like about their story? Do you think you could do what they did? What would that look like or what would be something you could do to be like them? Lets write those things down in your journal and pray and ask God to help us do those things. Keep track of these things for each camper… it could pay off at awards time or in your birthday card encouragement!

Tuesday- Prepare to Run

“Let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us.”

Race preparation is all about making ourselves ready. To get ready for this race we must….

1. Spiritually get rid of weight (sin). (RC,TC,4R)

2. Don’t pick it up to begin with (DC & THV)

Realize our sin and guilt makes us look into ourselves when it should make us focus on the forgiveness of Christ! This is huge. Our preparation isn’t “TRYING NOT TO SIN ANY MORE”. Our preparation is “ALWAYS GOING TO JESUS WITH OUR JUNK AND LETTING HIM WASH US CLEAN.” HE PREPARES US, we don’t prepare ourselves! This is a big concept to get across! Our role is to come to Him. His role is to cleans us and prepare us.

You do not have to be ashamed or feel condemned. Strip off the guilt and sin. This is what Jesus wants us to do, God will take it….he is not mad at you! He is asking you to do it right here….let’s do it! ARE YOU WILLING TO LET HIM TO IT?

Supporting Scripture: 1 John 1:9 “if we confess our sins he is faithful to forgive us

Invitation- (This is going to be a big one for some of the kids) Who is ready to get rid of all the junk in your life that has been weighting you down? Day Camp and THV: Who would like to stay prepared by not picking up all this junk? Who wants to be able to run without all the stuff hangin on you? Who wants to make good choices?….

Take Away 1- Jesus wants us to throw off sin….he died so we can do this!

Take Away 2- He is not mad at you he release your guilt and sin to him. We give, he takes! That’s all it is. We don’t have to DO anything else but give it to him and ask him to take it.

Take Away 3- you will not run effectively if you do not take off the weights that slow you down

Cabin talk discussion- God tells us that he will ALWAYS forgive us…what does that mean to you? I like this direction. However, this is a huge question that may be a bit much for them to process. But we can work with it and come up with something that will lead them to the conclusions you’re wanting.

Wednesday – The Race Begins

-“let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”

IT is time to get moving!

If we stay in the same place we will not get where Jesus is telling us to go.

Jesus has marked out the course for the Race, don’t get trapped trying to make your up own course.

1. Your action will show you where you need to grow! (RC,TC,4R) I agree with this , but you’ll want to explain it here so your speakers will explain this to the kids the way YOU want them to.

Don’t quit because it gets difficult….when this happens to athletes it just makes them work harder. The difficulty lets them know what they need to work on. I’m not a failure because I get really tired.

2. Don’t give up! Use the encouragement from Jesus to help you (DC & THV)

Supporting Scripture: Proverbs 16:3-9

3Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.4 The Lord works out everything to its proper end— even the wicked for a day of disaster.5 The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided.7 When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them.8 Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice. 9 In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps

Invitation- This is the big invitation to run the race! Ask Jesus into your heart, recommit, start the journey, believe in Jesus. By this point, every camper needs to have had an opportunity to believe!

Take Away 1- we must enter the race. This may mean we need to start running or that we need to start preparing by getting rid of stuff. It could also mean that we need to change course to get on the course “He has marked out for us”.

Take Away 2- Jesus has our race course planned…don’t get trapped by going on your own way

Take Away 3- Don’t quit just because it gets tough….quitting is the only way you won’t complete the race that Jesus has for you. This is good! JUST DON’T QUIT! It’s not about being perfect and never messing up or never getting tired…JUST DON’T QUIT! KEEP GOING.

Cabin Talk Discussion- How can we move forward with what Jesus wants in our lives?

Thursday – Running the Race (We’re IN IT TO WIN IT!)

“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith”

Jesus is the only one that knows where to take us…..because he is the only one who finished perfectly. We must follow him and not just a human example or tradition. People are put into our life to encourage us and help us along the way.

1. It’s not about me trying to win the race it’s about him winning the race before me.

2. I must follow his example, stay in the race, stay on course, and DO NOT QUIT.

Invitation- does anyone feel they have been trying to do everything on their own…who is ready to give our own plans and let God take over????

Take Away 1- Jesus is the only one who is perfect… look to him

Take Away 2- It’s all about him, not me….how he forgives and loves

Take Away 3- Again….do not quit!!!

Cabin talk discussion- How can do better “fixing our eyes on Jesus”? What does it mean to “fix your eyes on Jesus”? How does someone do that? Would you like to do that? What would that look like next week when you go home? Be sure to have them write it down. Make sure that you keep track of it for future reference.

Friday– Why we run

“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Jesus died on the cross because he was thinking of YOU and embracing YOU at the beginning f other race, in the middle of the race and at the end of the race!

1. He is your biggest fan, even if you mess up. (yes, even then)

2. He won his race so you could finish yours in victory! Just follow Him!


Invitation- to join the marathon that is our race that Jesus has laid out before us

Cabin talk discussion- how will you put into practice what you learned this week? This is good, but you’ll probably want to help them out with a list of things they can do. “here are some things we can do to stay in the race. How many of you would like to do #1? #2? And so on.

Have them write it down in their journal. “I will commit to…” or something like that.

I hope this gives you enough resources to CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION with your kids at home. For more information and conversations you can contact Ron Griffin or Clay Staires


1. Zip Line – Overcoming Fears

2. Horses – Confidence (controlling a 1000 lb horse!)

3. Outdoors – Connection with God’s creation

4. Daily Quiet Times (Morning Encounters) – Encountering God through Nature, Art, Scripture, Prayer, Silence

5. Competitive Games – working as a team without griping and complaining

6. Low Ropes – problem solving and team building

7. High Ropes – Overcoming Fears, Trusting Others

8. Rappelling – Overcoming Fears, Trusting Others

9. Archery – developing a skill and feeling of accomplishments

10. Muck Wars – expressing yourself and group identity

11. Free Time – relationship building and one-on-one with counselor

12. Awards – encouragement and “calling out” specific personal characteristics

13. Canoes and Kayaks – skill development, controlling something bigger than yourself, teamwork

14. Cabin Clean Up – personal responsibility, learning how to clean and what ‘clean” looks like

15. Worship Singing – connecting to God in a very personal way, hearing His voice, feeling His presence

Clay Staires