Skip Navigation

How to Choose the Best Camp for Your Christian School

Over the last 27+ years of running our Gospel-driven camp for Christian schools, we’ve hosted dozens of school retreats for senior trips, fall/spring break, middle school retreats, and high school trips. From these experiences, as well as countless conversations with other schools about their experiences with other Christian camps, we’ve developed a deep understanding of:

  • What Christian schools are looking for when they partner with a faith-based camp
  • The challenges and disappointments they have when working a traditional camp
  • What a successful camp experience looks like for schools and their students

The more we learn from school administrators and teachers about the experience other camps provide, the more we’re convinced that many camps don’t actually deliver much value to Christian school students in the form of biblical teaching and relational discipleship.

Small group at camp for christian schools

To help Christian schools choose the right camp partner for their needs, we’re going to share the 5 key aspects you should consider when evaluating camps for students.


  • Aspect #1: Do the teaching sessions hyper-focus on their favorite topics, or do they teach the Bible faithfully (and focus on the main point of Scripture)?
  • Aspect #2: How does their staff engage your students while you’re there? Do they merely host recreation and teaching sessions, or do they disciple students in Gospel-centered conversations?
  • Aspect #3: Do they just offer basic recreation options? Or do they provide the once-in-a-lifetime experiences your students are expecting?
  • Aspect #4: Do they only offer ministry options on their property (once a year)? Or do they create unique partnership options that fit your school’s needs?
  • Aspect #5: Do they have the same vision of lifelong faithfulness to Christ that drives you and your school’s mission?

Below, we’ll explain what you should understand about each of these aspects, and walk you through how our Gospel-driven camp addresses each.

5 Aspects to Help You Choose a Camp for Christian Schools

Aspect #1: Do the teaching sessions hyper-focus on their favorite topics or do they teach the Bible faithfully?

This is the #1 most important factor, because biblical (expositional) teaching dictates whether the rest of your camp experience will be man-centered or Christ-centered.

Many well-meaning camps use the Bible (out of context) to teach on all sorts of topics—such as leadership, relationships, wisdom, or courage. These life lessons are clearly outlined in Scripture, but the Bible is more than a guide to wise decision-making or life hacks. When a pastor or teacher starts with their own human-centered goals, then the rest of their ministry follows suit. 

For example, the point of the story of David and Goliath isn’t to teach your 12th-grade students how to slay their giants. The point of David and Goliath is for us to see the complete power of God and his faithfulness to his children. The story of David and Goliath is about Jesus. No student is going to beat their demons of addiction or anxiety by depending on their own strength or courage. 

The simple truth is that your students need a Savior bigger than themselves.

Teenagers need to know Jesus speaks to them through his written Word — the Bible. Your students need to understand that the main point of God’s Word is to point to the life-altering power of the Gospel. The Bible is the divinely-inspired big story of God the Son redeeming sinful man to himself. 

Aspect #2: How do the camp staff engage your students while you’re there? Do they merely have a camp property, or do they engage your students in Gospel-centered conversations?

Many camps only have a limited staff on-hand during the spring and fall months, so schools only get 1-3 staff members assigned to help “host” their group. 

Teachers and faculty end up carrying all of the logistic and relational responsibilities during the trip — and burn out because of it. No matter how energetic and committed your faculty is to the growth of your students, no one can carry that weight 24/7 for 100 teenagers. 

That doesn’t work.

If a camp sees itself as just a recreation or outdoor facility, or conference, you should run the other way. Students are looking for mentors and leaders who care about the gritty details in their lives. So, there needs to be a relational component to any type of student ministry.

The simple truth is that you want to find a camp for Christian schools that is committed to engaging students in the hard conversations they usually hide deep below the surface.

Therefore, this is another key thing to ask about when talking to camps. You should explicitly ask them:

  • How many staffers will be directly working with our students?
  • Can you give us a schedule of when and how our counselors will be paired up with our group? (during recreation, small groups, sessions, etc.)
  • Can you explain the main sections of your staff training and what their role is while we are there?
  • Are their staffers trained and certified to handle conversations regarding past abuse and other difficult situations your students are facing?

Teenagers are dealing with enormous pressures and temptations, from the world and from within themselves. You want to find a camp staff who is trained to connect with students in Gospel-centered conversations that point to Christ as their ultimate hope.

Aspect #3: Do they just offer basic recreation options? Or do they provide the once-in-a-lifetime experiences your students are looking for?

Too often, camps assume that traditional cabin and outdoor activities like an afternoon hike or basketball game are enough to give students a great week. 

Just because they offer a different (sometimes more scenic) location than your Florida or Georgia Christian school doesn’t mean students will come back home raving to family about the great time they had. Every neighborhood has a basketball court, and there isn’t anything special about simply “getting out of town”. Unfortunately, most camps assume their location in the mountains is unique enough to hide poorly planned schedules, lackluster facilities, and outdated recreation.

Even first-class facilities aren’t enough to engage your students (if that’s all the camp offers).

Giving your students a school retreat they’ll never forget requires the camp understands how to:

  • Craft innovative programs that balances high-adventure recreation and intentional downtime.
  • Provide on-site and off-site recreation options dramatically different from a student’s normal routines. 
  • Professionally train and certify year-round staff members who are committed to using the recreation time to build relationships with students.
  • Lead students by showing them how to enjoy new challenges — and learn from them instead of avoiding them.

We can say from experience that this is a unique skill set that isn’t easy to come by. Even great camps often lack these key characteristics required to use recreation to give your students a memorable school retreat.

When talking with camps, try to get a sense of whether they have a proven process for engaging students through recreation. Ask them for a list of recreation options, and if they hire out the recreation to outside people (who may or may not follow the mission of their camp). If their answers or examples aren’t compelling, they probably aren’t the best fit for your school.

Aspect #4: Do they only offer ministry options on their property (once a year)? Or do they create unique partnership options that fit your school’s needs?

Most camps have a limited calendar of events and only maintain a full staff during the summer. Others have a strong staff, but only provide ministry partnership options at their camp location.

Every strong ministry partnership needs more than a one-time visit. Most schools have different goals for their 8th grade and senior trips, and different schedules for their fall break and spring missions trips. Make sure to have a direct conversation with the camp to find out the overall options they can provide your school. 

If your faculty is only getting to connect with a summer camp once a year, it’s going to be difficult for them to learn how to effectively engage your students and serve you well. 

Aspect #5: Do they have the same vision of lifelong faithfulness to Christ that drives you and your school’s mission?

You’ve got to be 100% sure the camp is driven by the same mission and vision that your school is focused on.

If not, then they’ll never be a strong ministry partner and can even hinder the discipleship and growth your school has spent the past several years building. There are far too many Christian camps who don’t think intentionally about their approach to Bible teaching, doctrine, or relational discipleship. Even worse, some camps pressure school students to make a “public decision for Christ” while on the trip (with no plan for future discipleship).

A Gospel-driven camp will always keep the long-term view in focus.

Your school is focused on guiding teens to grow up into men and women, moms and dads, professionals, and church members who remain faithful to Christ for the rest of their lives. So, you want to find a camp that lives and breathes that same vision. 

A good camp partner joins into the mission of your school. Here are a few questions to start that conversation and make sure your school will enjoy a genuinely Christian environment. 

  • How much Christian school experience do they have?
  • How do they encourage a biblical community of students? 
  • Do they have any published teaching sessions or articles that can help you understand their mission and vision?
Brody teaching session, camp for christian schools

The mission of Snowbird has always been to support the work of local churches and private schools by equipping students and leaders to keep growing in their faith when they return home. Effective Bible teaching doesn’t glorify the personality or well-crafted delivery of a topic. Biblical teaching depends upon the complete authority of Scripture and shows students how to read and study God’s Word on their own.

Read these words from long-time school partner, Tony Medina:

The teachings and discussion topics went hand in hand with our school mission. This trip is powerful for the Seniors to dive in and remember for the rest of their lives. This trip allows our students to get out of their comfort zone and connect with staff. It allows them to try new adventures that they might never get the chance to do again. We appreciate the sacrifice that all staff make to invest into the lives of our students. This experience will never be forgotten. Thank you Snowbird for always going above and beyond to make this experience life changing!!
Tony medina headshot

Tony Medina

Nothing else can replace an authentic, Gospel-driven love for students. You want to find a school retreat partner that loves Jesus, and loves your students well. 

You might have guessed it already—we’ve set out to build a Christian camp that breaks all the norms. Let’s take a stroll and see how Snowbird approaches these issues!

How Snowbird Addresses Each of These Aspects to Produce a Better Experience Than Traditional Camps

Our mission statement is more than a mere camp description. This is the hill we stand on, and it defines every aspect of Snowbird’s Christian School Retreats:

Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters exists to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the exposition of Scripture and personal relationships in order to equip the Church to impact this generation.

We spend 90% of our time focusing and working on the first two points below:

  1. Teaching the Bible expositionally to highlight the main point of Scripture.
  2. Building genuine relationships with students to help them process and apply God’s Word.

Both of these are equally important.

If you teach the Bible faithfully, but don’t provide any way for students to process and talk through the camp session, it’s unlikely they will seriously consider the truths shared. Or if students have plenty of discussion time about God, but it’s not grounded in the Bible, then details distract them and they miss the big picture of the Gospel message. 

Effective teaching will always be grounded in a relational component.

Recreation and ministry partnerships, listed below, are done in service of these two main priorities.

1. The Goal of Our Teaching is to Point Your Students Toward the Gospel

Our Snowbird pastors and teachers hold the Bible up as completely authoritative. God’s Word is also how he has chosen to reveal his character and nature to us. So, we want to teach our sessions in a way that enables every Snowbird student to see God’s Truth clearly. 

God has given us his Word in a form that is understandable and accessible. And, it’s applicable for our daily lives. We believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, written by men and divinely inspired by God. It is the utmost authority by which we:

  • Teach and preach, making the main point of the text the main point of the message.
  • Teach staff and students to study through Scripture in its own context and to its original audience.
  • Use Scripture as a foundation for our everyday lives, knowing it is applicable to all peoples for all times.
  • Offer daily worship services centered on the Word of God.
  • Equip Christian students to pursue Jesus fervently and faithfully.
  • Affirm biblical theology and its application, trusting the Holy Spirit to deepen godly affection by proclamation of truth.

The Gospel, the message of Jesus Christ, is the hope your students need in this crazy world. Read this thank-you note from Adam Vinson, Middle School Principal at Trinity Christian Academy

Best offseason sermons we have had. They were all so unified around the common theme of the resurrection. I loved that we were in I Corinthians 15 for each session. Very easy for kids to remember and hold on to for takeaways.
Adam vinson

Adam Vinson

Trinity Christian School

Here are some recent teaching sessions from Snowbird school retreats:

2. We Train College-Age Small Group Leaders to Engage Your Students in Conversations Throughout Your Retreat.

Every Snowbird staff member goes through 2 weeks of intensive training and a complete summer of camp ministry before being assigned to your students.

Most of our staff training time is spent studying God’s Word together, and learning how to communicate it to students. But, we also cover other crucial topics like how to handle conversations about past abuse and how to help students understand topics such as apologetics, and biblical manhood and womanhood.  

Our leadership team has 10-20 years of ministry experience — each. We’re immensely thankful for the team the Lord has provided. We’re convinced the spiritual health of our staff is a direct result of a direct focus on the Gospel-centered discipleship

This approach to Gospel-centered training has also helped us build long and healthy partnerships with schools like Covenant Christian Academy:

The camp reaches my students in a way that teachers are unable to because of position. Snowbird allows students to discuss spiritual matters in a real-world context with staff that are examples of Christian service. We come back because of the direct interaction with staff the students have. I have some students that are still in contact with staff 5 years after graduating. They are real people that become spiritual brothers and sisters for my students. The counselors are real people and invest in my students. No pretending or acting.
Mark gasaway

Mark Gasaway

Covenant Christian Academy

Learn more about our Mission & History.

3. We Develop a Customized Schedule Mixed with High-Adventure Recreation and Downtime to Build Community Among Your Students

We take high-adventure recreation very seriously. We’re commited to giving you and your students an experience they will never forget!

Christian school retreat, rafting trip
The recreation activities were so much fun. The food was so much better than expected. The students were very comfortable with the staff and opened up to several counselors about things going on in their lives, and the overall experience was phenomenal.
Barbara dobson, victory christian academy

Barbara Dobson

Victory Christian Academy

Click here to view our recreation options.

4. We Provide Multiple Ways to Partner with Snowbird, and Can Visit Your School for a Chapel Day

Our team travels to lead chapel services at several of our partner schools. These trips have turned into an encouraging trip that removes some logistical pressure from the school leaders. We love joining with ours schools to provide a joyful time of Christ-centered worship in the middle of a sometimes hectic week.

Contact us here to learn more & schedule a chapel visit.

How We Hold Ourselves Accountable (As Any Good Christian Camp Should)

Since our founding in 1997, our camp directors have been committed to creating a ministry location grounded on the truths of Scripture and biblical discipleship. Our mission is more than a fancy poster in a back office. Everything about Snowbird’s ministry approach follows this call:

Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters exists to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the exposition of Scripture and personal relationships in order to equip the Church to impact this generation.

You can view our camp staff page to learn more about our ministry team and support staff. The year-round Snowbird staff family boasts over 50 team members and is growing every year. Most of our teaching staff have served at Snowbird for over 20 years each. You won’t find any rookie Bible teachers here.

Click here to view our staff roster.

Speaking of our teaching sessions, we have published over 800 services from our previous years and encourage you to check them out. 

We’re a fully-registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. So, we’re guided by a separate board of directors that is filled with long-standing pastors and experienced business leaders who live with the utmost integrity in every area of their lives.

How to Partner With Us or Learn More

If you’re looking for the right camp for your Christian school, then we would love to talk more. We’re willing to bet that you’re looking for more than just a fun zip-line or climbing wall. Snowbird is dedicated to providing Gospel-centered teaching and discipleship for 6th-12th grade students — alongside the best high-adventure recreation in the Southeast.

Sometimes, your middle school and high school students need a good trip outside their everyday context. Snowbird is located right beside the Nantahala National Forest, hours away from major cities in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia. We’re here to give them an unforgettable experience and point them toward Christ along the way.

Full color 1 1 camp for christian schools

2024 Christian School Retreats

We build long-term partnerships with Christian schools to help schools invest in their students’ spiritual growth—outside the classroom. Our Christian School Retreats provide biblical teaching, Gospel-centered discipleship, and high-adventure recreation to challenge your students with the life-changing message of Jesus Christ and His Gospel.

November 16, 2023

Subscribe for Updates