When summer was well underway, Pensacola Christian College students and faculty turned their attention away from the classroom and focused their energies on a new goal—encouraging those attending Youth Outreach Ministry’s (YOM) summer camps.
Spending his third summer as a cabin leader at Camp o’ the Pines, Philip Elliot (Sr., MI) helped elementary-aged campers understand what it means to put their faith in Christ for salvation. “I had a camper that had heard the gospel several times, but was not entirely sure about what it meant to accept Jesus,” he said. “I was able to sit down with him and explain it to him, and later that day he made a profession of faith.”
As a cabin leader, Ashley Allen (Sr., FL) understands how important her role can be to a camper. “A cabin leader having a simple conversation with a camper can help them understand Christ’s love,” she said. “I have had the absolute honor of leading several campers to Christ this way because they had tough questions that couldn’t be asked in the middle of a chapel service.”
Hannah Dassow (Jr., NC), who is spending her second summer with Sports Center Day Camp, is a game leader. “I always try to enter each week with a new slate and exciting strategies to keep the children entertained during game time,” she said. “We have kids who come back each week and new children each week as well, so being able to vary the same games to add variety is a must.”
Since she loves assisting in children’s ministries at her home church, the camp has given Hannah a way to continue ministering to children while away from home. “[Working with children at camp] is an opportunity that stretches your patience and grows you in ways that only working with children can,” she explained. “It is always a joy to see just how your helpful and loving attitude can change the child and help them grow. If anyone is wanting to work with children in the future, it is a great way to get a taste of what children’s ministry can be like.”
For teens looking to expand their knowledge and abilities, several Academic Camps that cover a variety of areas take place. Dr. Sebastian Spencer assisted with leading the Pre-Med Academic Camp for YOM. At the camp, high school students eagerly participated in lessons that focused on different topics in science and medicine. “It’s a lot of fun to work with high school students. The camp environment contributes to a high level of energy and enthusiasm,” he said. “I would definitely encourage campers in nonacademic camps to consider Academic Camps to get an experience that reflects what they would be able to expect as a college student at PCC.”
Mechanical engineering sophomore Braxton Faulkner (NC) volunteered to assist with a camp where he knew he’d connect with campers—Engineering and Science Camp. “I enjoyed watching the campers build their circuits and cars that they would race. Seeing their determination and hard work to build something successful was a blessing to see!” he said. “This ministry is such an encouragement and blessing, not only to campers but to the camp staff alike.”
Paula Gaspi (Sr., WA) is thrilled that, even in her short time with campers each week at Teen Extreme, YOM’s thrilling teen camp, her encouragement can be such a meaningful part of their life as they navigate and grow in their walk with God. “One night a couple girls came to me and asked if they could pray for their third roommate. They were concerned about her salvation,” Paula recounted. “I told them to dig deep into the Word, keep a good testimony, and pray, then I prayed with them. The next morning during the invitation, God moved in [their roommate’s] life and she came forward for salvation. She was shy, but I could tell she wanted to grow in Christ. The next night she and one of her friends came to me and asked how they could study the Bible.”
“Growing up, going to Christian camps like Teen Extreme had been a huge turning point in my life,” said Paula. “Helping these teens make decisions for Christ is the biggest honor to have.”
After hearing testimonies from her friends about serving with Teen Extreme youth camp, Valery Janik (Sr., MD) became interested and signed up to serve. “Everyone says camp is for the campers, but it’s for the counselors too. Just in the short amount of time I served in this ministry, it truly changed my life for the better. I have grown in more ways than I could’ve imagined and developed so many solid friendships through this ministry,” she said. “Teen Extreme was an amazing ministry to serve in. Not only was it a great opportunity to grow spiritually, but it also was a ton of fun!”
Having served in YOM’s Sports Center Day Camp the previous summer, Valery cherishes the time she’s spent with young people and helping them grow in Christ. “This was my last summer before graduation, and I could not have picked a better way to spend it,” she said.