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medieval theatercraftingMake a Joyful Noise Art and Music Camp

Camp is a summer tradition for many. Make a Joyful Noise Art and Music Camp was established in 2005 based on the verse “Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth, sing the glory of his name; and give to him glorious praise.”Psalm 66:1 At the time, many of the local schools were eliminating their music programs, and there were few options for families who wanted music lessons and/or musical productions for their youth. Make a Joyful Noise Art and Music Camp was created to fill this gap.

…a unique opportunity for children to learn, experience, and be nurtured in the expression of worship, utilizing the gifts of performing arts: music, drama, art, and dance.The vision of the four-week camp is to offer a unique opportunity for children ages three to fifteen to learn, experience, and be nurtured in the expression of worship, utilizing the gifts of performing arts: music, drama, art, and dance. A simple mission statement guides the program: Honor and Use Gifts to Grow (HUGG).

Why Art and Music?

Music and art make the learning environment stimulating, exciting, and fun. Art and music are a source of inspiration to help people cope with life’s ups and downs. Creative industries are some of the fastest growing industries in the country. Arts can reach people who are not otherwise being reached. Some students who march to the beat of a different drummer become high achievers in arts and music settings. Art and music allow for creative risks and increase a person’s self-concept. Music enhances spatial learning.

The Design of Make a Joyful Noise Art and Music Camp

The camp is designed to help children explore the exciting world of art, drama, music, and creativity. Camp is a fabulous way for young people to:

doing artThe high school and college staff arrive at 8:30 each morning. During a half-hour meeting, the staff reviews the activities for the day, participates in staff devotions, and prays for the campers and the day ahead. This time is critical for staff bonding and their Christian growth. Starting the day with a devotion enriches each staff member personally.

The campers arrive at 9:00 a.m. Parents are required to sign in their child. This requires the parents to exit their vehicles and come to the registration desk every morning. Staff greets the parents and share any announcements (e.g., paint day tomorrow). The day begins with a worship service. Songs are sung and a biblical story is told or shared via role-play or media. The campers then divide into age groups and rotate throughout the day via a series of stations. Each station lasts 30 minutes. The campers get to experience cooking, playing the chimes and keyboard, and creating their own media. Additionally, they participate in arts and crafts, set design, prayer, mission minds, music appreciation, and/or dance.

The stations are the same on Monday and Wednesday and different on Tuesday and Thursday. The rotations depend on the staff’s talents. All stations are Christ centered. For example, the cooking rotation is titled “Godly Cooking,” and the activities focus on biblical stories related to food (e.g., feeding the 5,000) or stories with Christian connections. The titles of the rotation change with the yearly theme.

church sparklesThe daily schedule includes both a morning and afternoon snack, and the campers bring their own lunches. There is a time for organized games in the morning (a.k.a. recreation) and an afternoon free-play time, when the campers select their choice of outdoor activities. Once a week there is a “Splash Day” when a portable water slide is set up and various water rotations are designed by the staff. Additionally, special guests are invited to camp once a week. For example, a congregational member who plays an instrument might give a concert or a local police officer may share community pride. Every afternoon includes a story time, where the campers review the Bible story from the morning, and the day ends at 3:00 p.m. with a worship service. The service includes camp songs and prayer requests. Parents follow the same routine as in the morning, exiting their car to sign out their child. After the campers leave, the staff gathers to discuss the day and divide the clean-up jobs. Staff leaves at 3:30 p.m.

Thursday evening of the final week there is a musical production and art exhibit.Thursday evening of the final week there is a musical production and art exhibit. The campers invite their families and the congregation to watch them perform. The set design, costumes, and props were created during the rotations. Afterward, there is an art exhibit displaying the products they created during the four weeks.


For a small fee, campers can take private music lessons. The high school and/or college staff teach the music lessons. Each morning at 6:00 a.m., the church opens for a before-care, and at least two staff members remain onsite until 6:00 p.m. for after-care. Per the insurance policy, at least two adults 25 or older are always on the property when children are present. Additionally, the camp has a two-staff rule, meaning no camper is ever left alone with a staff member.

Prior to the beginning of camp, there is weeklong staff training. The sessions include CPR and first aid training, coaching in how to use Christ-centered discipline, basic instruction for all rotations, and support in how to teach the three camp rules:

Everything is based on a positive reward system. Our goal is for campers to feel the love of Jesus and to understand the Bible stories and messages. Currently we have staff who were campers themselves!

Marketing the Camp

Each year, we create and distribute fliers to local congregations and community organizations. The staff walks the community and passes out fliers during staff training. Initially, ads were placed on social media and in community camp magazines. The staff and camp applications are posted on the church website. Currently, word of mouth is the best marketing technique. Each year, we host a parent meeting to explain camp schedule and camp policies (for example, we operate as a No Nut Zone, as we have campers allergic to peanuts).

Interested in Starting Your Own Camp Ministry?

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands. Serve the Lord with gladness. Come into his presence with singing!” Psalm 100:1

Belinda Karge is a Professor of Doctoral Studies at Concordia University Irvine. She has been involved in camp ministry for many years. You can email her with specific questions or to obtain any of the materials or forms used by the camp.

Photos courtesy Belinda Karge.

Quoted Scripture from Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.