CampFire Kids Worship Band Camp
My husband and I directed CampFire: Kid’s Worship Band Camp last week at Vineyard Campbellsville Church in Kentucky. It was our first full week camp and we learned a lot. I believe the entire week was monumental in the Kingdom of God. I am still unpacking the experience, but I know that God was happy with the sweet expressions of worship these children (ages 8-12) gave to Him. I know that parents were blessed to see their children connecting to God in a tangible way and the kids were excited to learn to play instruments, as well as be in a band. I know that the volunteers who made this week happen were exhausted, but truly believed that every moment was worth the hard work.
Each day at CampFire, we started with a group theory lesson, led by some amazing music teachers in our church. These folks taught the basics of music, including rhythm and dynamics in a creative and interactive way where the kids stayed engaged and truly retained information that they later put into practice.
After group theory, the kids went with their color groups into their different group instrument classes. The kids chose one instrument to focus on for the entire week (piano, guitar, bass, drums, or voice). There were two levels of each instrument so that those students who had taken private lessons before did not have to rehash old information. At the same time, there were beginners’ classes for those students who had never touched their instrument before. The only requirement to participate in the class (besides paying the camp fee) was to bring your own instrument to camp with you.
During group instrument classes, everyone focused on learning the same song. We chose Josh Baldwin’s song, “Praises” for several reasons. 1. It is a good song, full of life and truth. 2. It is a simple song written in a basic 4/4 timing. 3. It is in the key of G and the chord progressions are simple and easy to follow. The kids knew this song backwards and forwards and probably got tired of hearing the same song so many times, but they KNEW it. Can you imagine sending your 8-year-old to camp for a week not knowing how to even tune their guitar, then they stand up on Friday night at the finale and play an entire worship song? It is phenomenal to experience.
After group instrument classes, we brought all of the students together for worship. Each worship service was led by kids. We had a kids worship band that had been practicing together for over a year and they were great. The band led the kids in songs, while my husband encouraged everyone to engage. The kids raised their hands, bowed down, cried out, shouted, closed their eyes, and danced before the Lord. By the end of the week, the kids band had changed to kids who were participating in the camp for the first time.
One day during worship, the kids started running around the room, almost like a conga line, but faster. They were smiling and laughing. My husband asked them why they were running around the room and one boy said, “I felt a wind and I thought it was God so I felt like I was supposed to start running and I felt so free.” On another day, we saw kids raising their hands and crying out to God during worship. We asked them to pray for each other and we saw people shaking and crying and truly feeling the presence of God.
We taught the kids different worship principles throughout our sessions together. The first lesson was taught by a 10 year old. He preached about the heart of worship and the kids were glued to every word he said. On other days, adults and teenagers taught about releasing prophetic sound in worship, songwriting, waiting on the Lord, and personal responsibility in worshiping Jesus.
After lunch, we took the kids to fun activities like boating at the lake, swimming at the pool, and a campfire at a farm. Then, we came back to the church for band practice. We divided the kids into bands and let them experience what it is like to play their instrument while listening to other instruments. There are a lot of skills gained from learning to play with others. One of the most important skills to learn as a worship leader (in my opinion) is how to be a servant more than a show-off. Playing skillfully includes knowing how to follow the leader, how to give space for the other instruments, and how to serve the church with what you are playing.
By the end of the week, the kids wrote songs with their instrument groups. They played their instrument better than when they started on Monday. They learned to play in bands and tune their heart strings into the sounds of heaven. We hosted a CampFire Finale where the kids played the songs they wrote. We had a brand new band of kids who had never played on stage before leading the song “Praises” while the rest of the camp kids sang as a choir. To close out the day, our seasoned kids band played fun worship songs and the campers danced, sang, and raised their hands to Jesus.
We learned a lot from this first year of CampFire: Kid’s Worship Band camp. This experience was valuable to everyone who touched it. I will give my life to not just leading worship but training worship leaders. May God bless CampFire and all of those who participated in it this year.