As you are well aware, the holiday season is over, and a new quarter has begun. With this new quarter comes excitement, uncertainty, fun, hardship, and a whole lot of planning. If you are like me, you spent these last few weeks collecting ideas, reserving dates, scoping out event venues, and weighing the pros/cons for purchasing a blender for your grosser youth games. To be honest, I thought most of my year was planned out…how naïve of me. Just when I felt certain, my computer notified me of a new email. CAMP! Immediately, a tidal wave of questions filled my mind. What are the dates? When do I register? How do I fundraise? Will I survive a week straight with my teenagers? In that moment, camp seemed to be just another thing to add to my list of growing tasks.

Now as cumbersome as some of the preparation for camp week may seem, let us not forget just how impactful camp is to our youth groups. For example, my teens are still talking about the memories and inside jokes made during camp last year. More importantly, the youth group connected spiritually and developed a renewed passion for the things of God. While camp is incredibly beneficial for our teen’s spiritual walks, it is also a pivotal time for you and your leaders to build stronger relationships with the teens. Think of it this way, we spend approximately 3 hours a week with our teens. But with camp, we get to spend 5 whole days with them. Think of the ministry, connections, and growth that can occur. Camp is simply an opportunity we as youth pastors and leaders cannot afford to take lightly.

But camp can be expensive, and money does not grow on trees. Thankfully, we can fundraise (or FUN-raise as I like to call it). Fundraising not only helps teens pay for camp and alleviates some pressure from the parents, but it also displays the God-given beauty of work.

So, without further ado, here are 15 of the simplest yet most effective camp fundraiser ideas for your youth group:

  1. Car Wash – Grab a bucket, a sponge, and an attention-grabbing sign. Just start scrubbing and watch the cars roll in!
  2. Yard Sale – Encourage teens, church members, church members’ family members to donate anything they would like to get rid of. Gather it all together in the church parking lot, put prices on each item, and host a yard sale on some warm Saturday. Just be sure to stress the importance of not bringing junk.
  3. Rake Leaves/Shovel Snow/Mow Grass – No matter the season, someone’s lawn always needs help.
  4. Silent Auction – Find some various unique and fancy items and place them in your church foyer. Throughout the next few weeks allow church members to place their bid for each item. When the deadline hits, the one with the highest bid wins the item.
  5. Dessert Auction – Teens will bake some sort of delicious dessert to be sold in a public auction to the highest bidder.
  6. Bake Sale – Grab your best cook, make an insane amount of baked goods, and sell them before and after church services.
  7. Pancake Breakfast – Host a breakfast with all the fixings and watch them come.
  8. Chili Cook Off – Teens partner up with leaders to create various chilis. The crowds can walk through, pay for a chili, and vote for the best one.
  9. Teen Guys vs. Dads Basketball Game – This is a big event that our teens and church members absolutely love! Create a teen’s team along with a dad’s team and organize a time for them to ruthlessly play against one another. As they play, have the leaders and girls sell concessions like popcorn, nachos, chips, candy, etc. You can also do the reverse with a Teen Girls vs. Moms volleyball game.
  10. Sponsor a Runner – Teens will participate in a marathon (length and speed up to you) and will find a sponsor to pay a specified price for each mile they walk.
  11. Coupon Book – Have your teens collect various (and not expired) coupons from businesses and restaurants in town. Gather all the coupons and create an easy-to-use book, which people will pay a specified price for.
  12. Envelope Fundraiser – Gather a couple hundred envelopes, number each one with a specified price, and hang them up in a common area in your church. As church members come and go, they can drop the appropriate amount of money in the designated envelope.
  13. Collecting Aluminum Cans – Encourage your church members to save their aluminum cans and bring them to a designated place in the church. Once you have enough, host a “sorting party” to organize the cans, then drop them off at your local landfill for a profit. If you want to do this fundraising idea, I would definitely start sooner rather than later.
  14. Raffle – People pay a specified price to have their name put into drawing for the possibility of winning a “life-changing” prize.
  15. PRAY – No, this is not a fundraiser. But without prayer and willful surrender to God’s leading, your fundraiser will not succeed. Sure, you may get some money here and there. But what’s the point if it is not done through faithful obedience and dependance on God.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but I hope it can help get some ideas flowing. Every church, every teen, and every youth pastor/leader will do a fundraiser differently. Embrace that! Make this your own! Fundraisers are not to be a chore, but an opportunity to connect with your teens and model for them the reaping that comes from sowing hard work.

May I leave you with a reminder we need both as we prepare for camp and as we serve in our local ministries:

Proverbs 16:9 – A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.

We must realize that all we are able to do is because of Him. So may all our plans and work be focused on His glory alone!