In my last post I received a comment from Matt that I thought would good to answer in another post. Matt asked, "Why do you spilt the ages the way you have [for events]?" This is year was the first year we divided our students in this manner for events. As we wrestled with this question as a staff, here was our thought process:
1) Traveling with our students to Florida (from Chicago) is a long trek. Last year we took 100+ high school students to Big Stuf in Florida and found there were a few challenges traveling with this large of a group (i.e. longer stops made for longer travel time). We thought that it might be best to take two smaller groups instead of one larger group.
2) We wanted to give the incoming Freshman class a better chance to connect to our high school ministry. We assumed that they would be able to connect faster and more effectively with a smaller group that was closer to their age. Combining them with the Sophomore class gave them exposure to the overall high school ministry, but was far less intimidating.
3) We also wanted to create an intermediate step for Freshman parents. The jump between our Junior High Camp (in Wisconsin about 3 hours away) to Big Stuf Camps (in Florida about 20 hours away) was a hurdle for many families. Many students were not able to attend last year's trip with us because the parents were not yet comfortable sending their students across the country (this has never been an issue for the older students).
4) We now also created a scenerio where students can look forward to the next event they will be able to attend. They attend our JH Camp for 3 years, HS CIY for 2 years, and then HS Big Stuf for 3 years. All three events are high quality events so the draw becomes more about the location than about the program.