I covered my mouth and lowered my head as the outreach speaker spoke. This is not what I was expecting. The delivery, the tone and the humor was off. I felt like I was watching a bad comedian lose their audience. In fact, it was a bad comedian. I was waiting for the heckling to begin but because this was a church event, the students would be too polite to say anything to the speaker, but I heard about it.
Such was my experience with one speaker we, as a community, had booked for an event. This was pre-social media so we couldn’t just look up a Youtube video or read their tweets to see if they were going to be a good fit. We went off other people’s recommendations.
Your camp speaker sets the tone for your camp. The nightly messages are why you are having camp in the first place, so that kids can experience God’s word in a powerful way. Choosing “the voice” of camp is the beginning of wisdom and will go a long way to the kind of outcome you want for your camp.
Let me offer you few suggestions for the choosing the right camp speaker
Since social media does exist, now, use it. I am not saying you should look for something wrong or to be judgmental. You should write down what you are looking for in a speaker and judge the media you are seeing by that standard to see who comes closest to it. Here’s a brief social media checklist
- Podcast interviews
- Youtube Videos
- Personal Platforms (IG, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
If you see red flags, ask them about them because you may be misreading something.
These are important questions, especially if the speaker is an unknown quantity. Here’s a few to get you started
- Do you believe in giving altar calls?
- What are your views on… (make your list of what is important to you or your church)
- Would you be willing to… if you are wanting them to do more than just speak, make that clear and whether you need to pay them for anything extra)
- Tell me about your camp experience
Make sure you express your expectations of the speaker including
- how long do you expect them to speak
- which part(s) of camp they’re supposed to be involved in
- how you’d like the altar times to be handled
These are basic vetting processes that can be overlooked if the person you are seeking is a known “personality”. In our day and age we cannot afford to assume anything about anyone no matter who recommends them or how highly they come recommend.
If there is pushback on any of your expectations, be willing to talk it out and even compromise if it doesn’t violate your standards.
Do your homework and start the process early (October to January for summer camps), this way you will not have to make a decision based on time or pressure but on convictions and standards.
One last word of advice, anything can happen between the time you book a speaker and the time they speak. Have 2-3 other speakers on speed dial in case you have to uninvited a speaker or the speaker is not able to fulfill their obligation due to an emergency or family issues.
Remember, this speaker is spending the whole week with your students and pouring into their lives. Make prayer and common sense a priority in choosing the vessel and God will provide the voice your students need to hear.
If I can serve you, I’d be happy to be your number 2 or 3 if a situation comes up, but if you are looking for experience, quality and desire for you have the best camp ever, let me know how I can be your number one choice for camp speaker. Drop me a line at email@example.com
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