Monday, July 2, 2012

Tom's take on camp speaking 1

I've spoken on a few camps and get up to speak in churches or chapels often enough to be comfortable.

But compared to Tom I am a speaking dwarf. He is a giant. A seasoned veteran of camps, sermons, chapels. You can check out his blog here.
So when we were trapped in a car I spoke to him about speaking, especially focusing on camps.

Ideally, the audio would be inserted here, but my phone and my laptop can't get on the same wavelength.

So you'll have to do the hard work of reading to be impressed by Tom's wisdom and my woeful interviewing skills. Our chat went for 12 minutes so I’ll break it up into chunks. Enjoy…

Graham: Hello Thomas. Who are you and how do you know me?

Tom: I’m Tom (insert awkward laughter at the ineptitude of my launch question). I know you because we went to Anglican Youthworks College together and, because you aren’t going to say it, we are currently in the car travelling home from the Anglican Youthworks graduates dinner, where we spent the night together, hearing about the college. So I just want you say you should support the college with prayer for them, you should promote them and… um… (Tom is trying to remember the third point) give money to them from your pocket. I also want to mention that we are currently driving over the Harbour Bridge, the world famous Harbour Bridge (Tom and I were going to thrill my international readers with a world-exclusive-audio-of-the-landmark-crossing, but alas).

G: So, Tom, what do you know about speaking at camps?

T: Well… What do I know about it? (again, insert laughter at my poor questioning)

G: When was the first time you did it?

T: The first time would have been 2003 when I got asked to speak at the youth group camp with a guy who went to college with us. And I was expecting this youth group to have about 30 people or something, but there was probably 12 kids there. All my talks were originally planned to be given standing up in front of a group. Instead, I sat before them and give five horrible talks. Partly because I wasn’t giving them as I had planned and partly because I hadn’t had enough time to plan five really good talks, so I give five bad ones. So my first camp was pretty useless. (Ironically, I spoke at the same camp a few years later, also my first time as a camp speaker)

G: So if you’re first one was useless, why did you do the second?

T: To redeem myself. I don’t actually remember when my second camp was. Um… I think it was a while between camps…

G: You needed time to recover.

T: Yeah… and he probably put it out there that I wasn’t a very good camp speaker, and then, by the time my reputation had been forgotten, they asked me to do it again on another camp. But I think I’ve been doing camps steadily since 2006.

G: How many camps do you think you’ve spoken at by now?

T: Oh… Maybe like 20-25.

G: Okay, do you think the speaker should stay at camp the entire time?

T: I did this one camp that was a hip hop camp. And I love hip hop dancing (insert chuckles from the questioner). I love people who do it and I have a lot of respect for hip hop dance but I can’t do it at all. I was a little terrified of the camp when they asked me to do it, but it was only two days – Friday night/Saturday. But I couldn’t do Friday night because I had youth group and I wasn’t able to be there on the Saturday afternoon, so I came in and did one talk in the morning. And I just felt dumb turning up and doing the talk when no one got to know me. Driving home I thought that I needed to go on camp. The best thing I find is when you stay the whole time and do as many activities as possible you get to know the kids; you get to help out with orderlies, as more people see you doing stuff, they connect with you, they laugh with you, they get to know you. You have good conversations when you are doing other stuff. Otherwise you’re just talking at people, not talking with people and you are halving your effectiveness as a camp speaker. Maybe you’re 20 precent effective.

G: That’s a made up statistic like all of them are!

T: No, I did research on that one.

G: So, Tom, if you have a camp that has more than one talk (as most of them do) what do you do in the first talk to break the ice?
Find out Tom's answer tomorrow...

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