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Camp Life: Ministry with Youth

Camp o' the Pines counselors playing games with campers.

During the summer months, PCC’s campus transforms from hosting classes to hosting Youth Outreach Ministry summer camps for children and teens. Each week brought new opportunities for PCC students and faculty to share the Good News with campers.

Sports Center Day Camp

For ten weeks of the summer at Sports Center Day Camp, children ages 6–12 enjoyed all the activities in the Sports Center, as well as the Swim Center and Field House.

Sports Center Day Camp campers and counselors sitting in chairs.

Each day, children have chapel time where they learn biblical truths. “Our goal is to create a safe place for campers to have fun and grow in their knowledge of Jesus Christ,” said Dr. Mike Davis, PCC Bible faculty and director of the camp. “One of the highlights of camp is watching the campers grow in the Lord. Because most come for the whole summer, there is time to see the fruit of spiritual decisions made in chapel. We pray that the Lord allows our campers to take the next step in their spiritual lives.”

Students and staff from PCC worked with the children throughout the day’s activities. “The majority of our camp staff is made up of college students. They are a joy to work with and disciple. We are a diverse group who love serving the Lord together,” Dr. Davis said. “I also love seeing our camp staff grow during the summer. Each leader is stretched and learns something about himself or herself. I love seeing the leaders be used by God to accomplish ministry. Many of our leaders learn valuable lessons about working with people that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

Teen Extreme

At Teen Extreme, during the five separate weeks this summer, over 5,400 campers visited PCC’s campus in total. Campers competed as teams in extreme sports and verse competitions, got to know each other during time with their camp staff, and heard dynamic preaching morning and night. The spirit of the camp brought many church youth groups and individuals from across the country to campus each week.

Bella Martin holding a sign

This year, Bella Martin (Sr., TN) served her fourth year on camp staff at Teen Extreme. After experiencing firsthand the kind of positive influence a summer Christian camp can have, she felt God’s calling to reach other teens through Teen Extreme. “It’s important to remember that every week is week one for the teens, so I ask God daily to give me a servant mind and to make every interaction with campers an excellent one,” she said. “I want to finish each week knowing that every teen I’ve spoken to has seen Christ living through me.”

Thursday nights were always special to Bella. After revealing which of the teams won the most points that week, the camp staff sang this year’s camp theme song, “I Stand Redeemed.” In that moment, Bella would reflect on how God touched the lives of those campers. “You need to continually be in God’s Word and prayer because this camp shows you how weak you are, but how with God’s strength you can see Him work,” she said. “Serving in camp requires continual pouring into the campers and other staff members, but it’s so worth it! I love this ministry and definitely recommend it to others!”

Academic and Sports Camps

Soccer campers taking a group photo on Eagle's Field.

Youth Outreach Ministry summer camps allow high schoolers to get a taste for a particular field of study or sport they might be interested in for their future. For natural sciences faculty Dr. James Ridgley, this was his fourth year serving with the Science and Engineering Camp. “My three-fold purpose was to be there for the campers so they can glean from the staff’s expertise, give them the opportunity to experience things they typically cannot do at home, and point them to the Creator,” he said. “We started with a morning lecture session, conducted two experiments throughout the day, and then wrapped it up with discussing the life of a scientist who was also a Christian.”

Mark Wainwright, PCC English faculty, led a new camp—Writing Camp. Over the week, he and fellow faculty member, Jennifer Miller, highlighted writing techniques that enhance communication as well as emphasized the power of using words and language to point people to Christ. “We worked hard to make Writing Camp interactive, inspiring, and fun,” he said. “Campers especially enjoyed sessions about dialogue, characterization, and figurative language. We also took time to talk one on one with campers and share how the Lord has enabled us to use our writing abilities for the glory of God.”

Camp o’ the Pines

Camp o’ the Pines is an overnight camp nestled in the wooded hills of North Florida’s Escambia County. At this overnight camp, campers participate in indoor and outdoor activities such as zip lining, team competitions, arts and crafts, archery, and swimming, among others. Though not hosted on PCC’s campus, the camp comprises many PCC students among its staff.

Jordan Weise walking with campers at Camp o' the Pines.

After training, camp leaders look after their campers during their stay. Many of these cabin leaders, like Jordan Wiese (Sr., MI), have served multiple years. “I have been a cabin leader for Camp o’ the Pines for two years now,” said Jordan. “When I was eight years old, I was saved at a camp, the biggest step of my spiritual walk with the Lord. I wanted to come alongside children in hopes that I could show them the love of Christ. I have taught [campers] how to make their bed, tie their shoes, open milk cartons, but the best thing I have helped campers do is lead them to Christ through salvation.”

Hannah Doolittle walking with campers at Camp o' the Pines.

Each day, campers are provided time to hear God’s Word in chapel messages and learn about God’s gift of salvation in cabin devotions. “Chapel is always emphasized as the most important part of camp, and most campers look forward to hearing stories from the Bible and singing their favorite camp songs,” said Hannah Doolittle (Sr., TN) who is serving her third year at Camp o’ the Pines. “I had a camper last summer that was rather quiet and a little harder to talk to since she was so reserved. Every day I asked her how she was doing and made it a point to talk to her about the Lord. Toward the end of the week, I was able to lead her to the Lord. Because she was so reserved, I wasn’t sure if I had made a difference. Had she seen Christ in me? When she left to go home, she handed me a note she had written to me. In her letter, she wrote something like this, ‘Thank you for asking me every day how I was doing. Thank you for loving me.’ It was then that I knew God had worked through me. I learned through that camper that God sees our hearts and works through us even when we may not see it.”

Although the YOM camps provide opportunities for campers to enjoy unique experiences during the summer months, it also allows camp staff to share the gospel with them. This year’s camps may have come to a close, but next year will see more campers, first-timers and returning, grow closer to Christ.