Here are reports from several of the 20 U.S. camps sponsored by GCI Generations Ministries. Our thanks to all who selflessly gave their time and other resources to make these camps possible.
Base Camp (NW)
Camp director Susan McNutt reports on this camp held in Oregon. It’s one of GenMin’s newest.
This year, 37 campers and 31 staff volunteers experienced one of the most transformative camps we’ve had. Ranging in age from five to seventeen, many campers came from unchurched homes, and the questions they had for our pastoral staff were both challenging and encouraging. The Superhero theme influenced every aspect of camp, from chapel services and games to T-shirts and backpacks. Our location may be rustic, but our relationship with the staff of the host facility continues to grow.
We had 90 campers (32 of them new), 107 staff members (great camper-staff ratio!) and seven baptisms! An unexpected blessing occurred when we learned that there were seven staffers who, on their way to SEP Scotland, were being denied a visa to stay in Scotland and had to return to the U.S. Although we were bursting at the seams, we agreed to have them join us at Heartland. They helped out with various staff chores including producing a promotional video and helping with our new website. We were greatly blessed to have them! Several staff members this year were new, having risen from the ranks of campers. We love to see the leadership baton being passed in that way!
Our “Jesus—Better Than a Superhero” theme carried throughout chapel services and a dance where many dressed as caped-crusaders. Campers and staff were treated to a magic show followed by an ice cream social. Once again, we held Camo Night, Camper’s Choice, and Praise and Worship Night. Christian Living classes covered the meaning of Communion and the doctrine of the Trinity. Other activities included swimming, archery, pottery, arts and crafts, website design, photography, target shooting, childcare for aspiring babysitters, drama and dance.
Gary and Cathy Deddo visited and commented that, “This is the way the body of Christ should look and function—all generations at work and play.” Heartland veteran, Pastor James Newby, shared the same feeling: “I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of many camps since the 1970s; this one was special. It was a microcosm of how the church should be 365 days a year: welcoming, loving, inclusive—a transformational time and place.”
The final chapel service was overflowing as parents arrived to pick up their children. God’s hand was in all the preparatory work as many obstacles were overcome through no effort of our own, but by his merciful and wonderful intervention. All hands left “tired but inspired,” looking forward to what God will do at Heartland next year.
This report is from camp director Tobe Johnson. Pictures are posted at https://www.facebook.com/SEPMontana?fref=ts.
SEP Montana is a mission-focused camp for kids age 8-17. It’s held on the banks of Holter Lake in a Montana wilderness campground. The site provides water, electricity and a pavilion that holds about 50 people. Everything else must be brought in: dorms, kitchen, health center, etc.—all to serve 117 campers and 59 staffers. 2014, our 8th year of operation, was a great success. The theme, “At the Movies: Superheroes” was unpacked in our theme song from the Superman movie, and the curriculum from Generations Ministries.
Our activities included tubing, jet skiing, Christian Living, arts/crafts, paintball, sapphire mining, team building, boat rides, wilderness skills, service projects, Montana animals in the wild (sponsored by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks) and movie time. Highlights of camp this summer included:
- 17 baptisms (both campers and staff)
- sponsorship from 40 sources in the surrounding community (churches, individuals, businesses and other organizations)
- one of our parents flew into camp in a helicopter to teach the class on Montana wildlife
- wake-boarding (over 50 kids participated)
- a camp store where kids could purchase snacks
- over 75% of the campers responded to an altar call—giving their lives to Jesus Christ, turning their “stuff” over to him by nailing it to the cross, or requesting prayer for various reasons—there were many tears of joy
- “the storm”—causing us to scramble to get off the water in a timely and safe manner, and then securing camp for the rough weather—it was quite a bonding experience—thankfully, no one was hurt
This report is from camp director Sarah Miles. A video from the camp can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDWdQYx5DQ4&feature=youtu.be.
- Extra time for morning devotions—campers spent more time in “quiet time,” while staffers watched a sermon video—these provided an awesome start to each day—the overflow of God’s love was evident
- An new discipleship program for veteran campers related to spiritual formation and being equipped for serving on staff—helping them experience that concept of Isaiah 58: “If you spend yourself on behalf of others…you will be like a well-watered garden…your frame will be strengthened”—what greater gift can we give a young person in today’s me-centered society than to teach them to serve others?
- The camp theme worked well (logo at right)—we focused on the victory that is ours in the Ultimate Superhero, Jesus—with him we can stand up under any burden, overcome any trial and live victorious lives
- As usual, the guy/girl day at camp was a big hit—gender segregated groups talked through the issues that young people face, seeking God’s principles, and not those of the culture around them
The Harvest Camp
This report is from camp director Howard Blakeney. The Harvest Camp is one of GenMin’s newest camps. It’s based in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
I’m thankful to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to be able to report that our start-up succeeded. It almost didn’t—we had financial challenges, among others. But God provided the needed resources for it to take place.
We were a small group—18 campers and staff. However, the Spirit was present in abundance! 90% of our campers were unchurched. Here are last-day comments from two of them:
- “I learned that we are adopted by our Father God, and I had never heard of this before. I now know what that means.”
- “I enjoyed finding out what my spiritual gifts are.”
Some parents called me following camp to report that camp was all their children were talking about! One said that their teen got his Bible out and started preaching! During one of our final worship sessions, we taught on baptism from a Trinitarian perspective and without an altar call or invitation, three youth asked to be baptized. We concluded camp by baptizing them in the Atlantic Ocean! We praise Jesus for entrusting these campers to our care!
This report is from camp director Dishon Mills.
2014 was a great summer for us. We welcomed 77 campers and 61 staff volunteers to beautiful Camp Mattatuck for a week of fun and spiritual growth. Campers participated in nature walks, archery, riflery, BMX bikes, volleyball, arts and crafts, fishing, swimming, ropes course, dance, skits, poetry, singing and canoeing. They also participated in an activity to design their own superhero, in keeping with the camp theme. Each day, campers prepared something new for “Showtime”—it seemed like each day their performances got better. This summer we placed additional emphasis on spiritual development. Three pastors led devotions daily for staff members. During daily chapels, a staffer or camper shared a testimony about why Jesus was his/her Superhero.
New Heights would not be complete without at least one rainstorm—a big one headed toward us this year. But we were prepared, and with the Boy Scouts helping, we executed a fairly complex plan to move every person staying in tents to cabins for the night. Everyone slept safe and dry. Thankfully, the storm lost much of its strength before it reached us.
At the end of camp we gave each camper and staff member an Olympic-style gold medal with the word “HERO” engraved on it. Since Jesus is our Superhero, he invites us to participate with him as heroes in our homes, churches, schools and communities. We wanted the campers to be motivated to participate with Christ in what he is doing around them. Each camper walked between two bonfires where staffers placed the medal on their neck and prayed for them.
Six campers and one staffer were baptized on the last day of camp. We would have baptized more, but some of the parents could not be contacted in time. Some campers said they’d get baptized back home.
The success of camp this year had a lot to do with prayer. Months prior to the start of camp, members of local GCI congregations began praying for each camper and staff member by name. This continued until the last day of camp and beyond. Many church members also sent a message of God’s love to a camper. It was extraordinary to see children who had never received mail get an unexpected card at camp letting them know how much they are loved!
Here is a video from New Heights (on YouTube at http://youtu.be/a2qsW4QTdSQ):
We thought you’d enjoy viewing a recently-produced video promoting GenMin’s Southern California camp (on YouTube at http://youtu.be/1aEwy_cIj18):