Top-10 Ways You Know You’ve Hired the Wrong Camp Speaker

It’s time for a fun little contest. I need your help finishing my TOP-10 list, and the person who submits the best answer will receive a copy of The Skit Guys’ new Skits That Teach Volume 2, a great little resource from Youth Specialties.

Most of us who’ve been in ministry for even a year or two have had the “privilege” of hiring a speaker for a camp or event. Booking speakers isn’t always easy. In my book about programming outreach events, Getting Students to Show Up, I spend an entire chapter talking about this daunting task, sharing a cornucopia of true stories, hilarious tales of “hiring” gone wrong.

But how do you know you’ve hired the wrong speaker? Are there tell-tale signs?

Here’s my fun new Top-10 List that will give you a clue. I wrote the first nine—use the comment feature of this blog and submit yours #1. Best answer wins the new Skit Guys book at the end of this week!

You Know You’ve Hired the Wrong Camp Speaker When…

10. Five minutes before he goes on he asks where he can change into his “costume.”

9. You ask him what passage of Scripture he’ll be using and he replies, “All of them.”

8. She wears Shape-ups so she can work out while she walks back and forth on stage.

7. When you’re finalizing his booking he asks, “Your kids like balloon animals, right?”

6. When you ask her who to cut the check to she gets really nervous and demands cash.

5. He gives you his theme verse for the week: Ezekiel 23:20-21

4. When he opens in prayer, he looks both ways and asks, “Which way is Mecca?”

3. When you ask her which version of the Bible she’ll be using, she replies, “Bible?”

2. His opening words: “Whaaaasssssuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuup!”

#1- we now have posted the winner HERE!

That’s it! We need your #1 answer for how you know you’ve hired the wrong camp speaker! Leave a reply in this blog’s comments section for your chance at the new Skit Guys’ book!

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, and You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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76 Responses to Top-10 Ways You Know You’ve Hired the Wrong Camp Speaker

  1. Jon forrest says:

    The introduction he instructs you to read contains the phrase “Christian carrot top.”

  2. Jon forrest says:

    He dons the stage in a hockey mask asking, “is this camp crystal lake.”

  3. Jon forrest says:

    His idea of “preaching” is quoting the movie “theif in the Night” word for word.

  4. Andy Gibson says:

    He/she cancels and says Billy Graham is coming instead!

  5. brett sims says:

    He wears a jump suit and changes the name of camp to fat camp and makes the kids workout all weekend and makes you do push ups

  6. Jon forrest says:

    He proudly proclaims “this week we will cover all 3 commandments.”

  7. Jon forrest says:

    His first three sermon titles are “the evils of degarmo and key”. Thanks skit guys. My address is ……..

    • Ha… okay Jon. Yes, these are good. But LEAVE SOME ROOM FOR OTHERS!! 🙂 (I think I like the Crystal Lake one)

      • Jon forrest says:

        Sorry, I was feeling it Jonny Mack. At least I didn’t go for the softball answer to how do you know you’ve got the wrong speaker? He says, “hello, I’m David r. Smith.”. I really don’t know him well enough for that.

        • David R Smith says:

          I knew I’d get dragged into this somehow. Thanks a lot, Forrest. (If I just buy you the Skit Guys’ book, will you leave me alone???)

  8. Justin pack says:

    Before stepping on stage he informs you that he needs to raise his honorarium due to the fact he is Jesus Christ reincarnated.

  9. Kent says:

    When he steps on stage, one of your camp volunteers who is taking a week off of his job at the police department, informs you that he had arrested him about three months before.

  10. Michael says:

    He doesn’t own a pair of jeans.

  11. Joe Dore says:

    Upon arrival he asks if there is time in the daily schedule to sign autographs for the “little people.”

  12. Nathanael Taylor says:

    He leads the kids in a song with motions and asks them to stay seated. As the kids start moving the fourth pew collapses – true story.

  13. Thomas Obunde says:

    He doesn’t Show up

  14. Bryan M. says:

    He asks if his shirt and tie are too casual.

  15. Bernadette Capuyan says:

    The hair club for men reject shows up and explains with an evil grin that he’ll be focusing on his favorite story in the Bible found in 2 Kings 2:23-25.

  16. Chris says:

    He runs on stage to his them song…”I’m Sexy and I Know It”….and proceeds to wiggle. He doesn’t actually know what wiggling is, he just saw the m&m superbowl commercial and copies that. He thinks this will give him “street cred.”

  17. Wendy Highsmith says:

    He informs campers not to kill the insects because we don’t know what they will be reincarnated to be.

    Or…you’ve only had contact with his ‘booking agent’ and never actually corresponded with him.

    Or…he calls one day before the event and says he has to have his appendix out!! Haha…just giving you a hard time – we got to meet Kyle that way AND still got the privilege of hearing you speak the following year 🙂

    • Jonathan McKee says:

      Lol. Yes, the last one is true. Wendy witnessed the one speaking engagement I actually have missed in the last 15 years. I was being rolled into emergency surgery and i got my buddy Kyle to fill in w just 24 hours notice. Then wendy got to hear me the following year. Good times.

  18. He spends the first 20 minutes giving a sermon to persuade people to give more in the offering, AFTER the first offering!

    What are we Hobbits? First offering, second offering, elevensies? Man, do I ever hate offering sermons.

    • I’m with you Benjamin. I don’t like offerings for a speaker. I don’t mind asking teenagers to donate to a cause, sponsor a child, etc., but not for a speaker. Speakers should be paid for within the budget of an event.

      • I find that a lot of events are also guilty of this. Can’t tell you the number of times I was at camp, already gave, and then heard a huge sermon highlighting the budget shortfall of the camp and that they were going to take up a second offering. Or even worse, tell people that if they raise a certain amount, they’ll burn the pastor’s hairpiece or something like that. I mean, I’m all for paying to see a toupee on fire, but it’s not exactly giving as worship.

  19. Rachael Martin says:

    He turns on a medley of Carman songs including Mission 3:16, Sunday School Rock, and Who’s In the House, and then ends with an interpretive dance to “The Champion” in his best Rocky impersonation.

    On another note, I have a way to know you’ve booked the WRONG retreat location… we went to an old mansion-turned-resort and upon arrival the owner pulled us aside to inform us that a deaf gentleman with a somewhat distorted face lived downstairs and we weren’t to be “startled” if we saw him walking around. Now, please don’t get me wrong, I have NO problems with folks who have disabilities, in fact, I have quite a heart for them. However, the way it was presented to us was quite the memory-making event. You can just imagine how well that went over with some of the young ladies who were petrified to go downstairs from then on! It turned out that the gentleman was our cook for the weekend, and did a fine job serving our group, and we were happy to get to know him!

  20. Dennis says:

    Before he gets up to speak, he asks your pastor who he gives his resume to before he preaches his trial sermon…lol.

  21. Jesse says:

    He opens and closes his message using Klingon.

  22. Brad Brimmer says:

    He asks you where his product table is so he can sell his “anointed” sweat rags.

  23. Jeremy Wasch says:

    The Speaker has a Justin Timberlake look-alike constantly tugging at his shirt!

  24. Mary Beth Harlan says:

    “I am so excited that this camp is letting me speak in person.”

  25. Tyler says:

    Don Cherry gave him a thumbs up on Hockey Night in Canada. Or he has received at “Tip of my hat or wag of my finger” by Stephen Colbert.

  26. Jack Hager says:

    He gives you a 2 1/2 page Press Release and tells you, “for clarity’s sake”, to read it word for word as you introduce him…

  27. Jack Hager says:

    On a serious note; you know you’ve got the wrong one when, no matter what a fantastic communicator he/she is, they never hang out with the teens

  28. Jesse says:

    They ask for only red m&m’s and a case of perrier mineral water to be left in their green room.

  29. Joe H says:

    You know you have picked the wrong retreat speaker when …
    … he falls asleep 10 minutes into his own talk.
    … his topic for the entire retreat is Deut 25:11-12.
    … he asks if any of the 18 year old girls are “available”.

  30. Scott says:

    He uses whatever happens to be #1 download on itunes for his altar song, because he likes to stay ‘current’.

    He uses 90’s catch phrases when speaking to Jr. Highs in 2012. Although it’s a great way to find out where the crickets are in the camp meeting hall.

  31. Chico says:

    He keeps telling you that you REALLY need to let HIM make the Kool-Aid that will be used at the end of the message

  32. Ryan says:

    They only things he requires are a cassette tape of Devo “Whip It” and an overhead projector with dry erase markers.

  33. Chico says:

    oh, and please tell me that I’m not the only person who had to look up Ezekiel 23:20-21

  34. Joe H says:

    You know you have picked the wrong retreat speaker when …
    … he tells you not to worry about the joint he’s smoking, it’s medicinal, he has a prescription
    … asks if you know where he could refill flask … with the good stuff … before he goes on
    … tells you how he corrected all of the errors Jonathan posted at “the Source4YM” website, and now he’ll show you the right way to do this speaking stuff … (LOL)

  35. Ryan says:

    He tells you his spiritual mentor is Tom Cruise.

  36. During camp planning he asks “So… you guys got any cute girls in your youth group?”

  37. David Brinkley says:

    He asks you if the girls sitting in the front two rows are seniors

  38. Ryan says:

    If he thinks he gets paid by the hour

  39. Jill says:

    He shows up to camp with pine cones, peanut butter, and bird seed and says, ” point me to the craft table!”

  40. John Fearnow says:

    If he shows up saying that he is pumped up to share the motivational speaking with Bob and Jillian, thinking he is on the Biggest Loser Ranch.

  41. Brandt Johnson says:

    …he comes in dressed like Yoda and says, “Em, teach you about God, I will!”

  42. Brandt Johnson says:

    His only request is to make sure his room has a Wii. (not sure how many chances I get)

  43. Brandt Johnson says:

    He sings, “I’ve got one hand in my pocket and the other one’s holdin’ a Bible, ah!”

  44. Brandt Johnson says:

    He jumps onto the stage dressed like Oz Foxx from Stryper.

  45. Brandt Johnson says:

    He wears a “vote for Pedro” T-shirt every night.

  46. Brandt Johnson says:

    His opening joke is, “Does anyone have any Doritos? I’ve got the munches!”

  47. brian capshaw says:

    If he/she has intro music like on WWE and jumps through rings of fire before hitting the stage/pulpit.

  48. Jesse says:

    He has a mullet and insists on his right to bear arms even while preaching

  49. Joshua Gerber says:

    You know that you have hired the wrong camp speaker when he asks if you have built in bathroom breaks for the students during his speaking time.

  50. Don Cooper says:

    He brings his acoustic guitar and opens with a special song for the teens. He tells them to hold on to their seats because this one is really upbeat and is a real rocker and he sings, “I’ll fly away oh glory, I’ll fly away, when I die hallelujah by and by, I’ll fly away”

  51. Dave says:

    He asks where all the cute girls like to hang out after the meetings

    HE asks where all the cute GUYS like to hang out after the meetings.

    The video clip he gave you to show during his talk turns out to be porn. You confront him and he says, oops wrong thumb drive. That one was for research on my porn talk.

    I could keep going, but I’ll stop before more bad memories surface.

  52. Kristi says:

    He announces at the beginning of the week we will be having free time, followed by free time and later on…you guessed it…free time.

  53. Jake Manne says:

    The speaker starts out his message on the topic of jewish marriage rituals and the bloody sheet (this actually happened at a winter retreat).

  54. emily says:

    he insults every person in the room one way or another.

  55. ELLEN COOKE says:

    #1 reason: his/her favorite song: Kum Ba Ya…………..

  56. Brandt Johnson says:

    He is wearing a blue Walmart smock.

  57. Heidi says:

    He asks if he can borrow a bible because he forgot his. He does not open up in prayer or close in prayer.

  58. Heath Stoner says:

    He opens by singing, “I like Big Bibles and I cannot lie.”

  59. David says:

    “What! You didn’t you get m e-mail about building the altar and having the live goat on stage. Well then, will you at least pick a student to play Isaac.”