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Summer Camps 2023: Growing as Christian Leaders

  • Camp of the Pines zip-lining group
  • Camp of the Pines
  • Discover Day Camp Worker teaching campers
  • Discover Day Camp Worker interacting with campers
  • Sports Center Day Camp worker walking with camper
  • Sports Center Day Camp worker gives out bowling shoes
  • Teen Extreme
  • Teen Extreme
  • Next Camp Chemistry
  • Next Campers in a Criminal Justice lesson

Summertime—it brings opportunities for relaxation, resuming summer work, and reaching out to others through summer ministry. While many Pensacola Christian College students returned home to be with family and serve in their home churches, some chose to stay on campus and dedicate their summer to investing in campers’ lives.  

As cabin leaders, students further developed hearts for service, related to their cabin through shared interests, and helped campers navigate PCC facilities. “Our students get to lead campers to Christ, show others how Christians can have fun, and represent a place we all love,” said Dr. Mike Davis, camp administrator.

Working with Campers

Youth Outreach Ministry (YOM) offers five different summer camps, each hosted on ministry properties. Teens and youth groups from across the country can experience a variety of thrilling experiences at Teen Extreme and NEXT Summer Camps. Local middle school kids enjoy exciting adventures at Camp o’ the Pines, an overnight camp 26 miles north of Pensacola, Florida. And local elementary school children can participate in summer activities at Sports Center Day Camp or embrace a spirit of exploration and innovation at Discover Day Camp

“They look forward to how God will use them for the week.”

Teen Extreme Check In

No matter which camp, PCC students are excited to meet new campers each week and help them have the best summer ever. “There are several reasons why students choose to serve in camp ministry each summer,” Dr. Davis shared. “Some are motivated by the opportunity to see campers get saved, others have a pure love for people, and some do it for the adventure. What they all find out is that God can use them. Once that realization sets in, they look forward to how God will use them for the week.”

This summer was many students’ first time serving in a YOM summer camp. Elizabeth Chung (Jr., FL) recalled how summer camp leaders had influenced her own life and wanted to provide the same support to others. “What initially interested me in serving in Teen Extreme was thinking back on my years as a camper. I wanted to invest in others’ lives in this capacity,” she said. “It is an unforgettable experience. Not only will you see God work [in campers’ lives] firsthand, but you will also see God work and grow you in your own life.”

Sharing Christ’s Love

Christian Service opportunities during college semesters allow students to serve and witness to locals in the Pensacola community. By choosing to serve in summer ministry at YOM camps, students can continue regularly sharing their salvation testimony as they introduce campers to Jesus.

It’s not uncommon for campers to respond after a service, where they’ll look to cabin leaders to walk them through accepting Jesus as their personal Savior, getting assurance of salvation, or discussing other burdens the Lord may have placed on their heart. “Each camp has at least two approaches for reaching campers with the gospel—in daily chapel or service times,” Dr. Mike Davis explained. “Leaders are prepared to talk to the campers who respond in the invitation.”

“Being a counselor at camp has matured me both spiritually and emotionally.”

Camp of the Pines Chapel

This was Jason Nicols’s (Sr., SC) second year as a Camp o’ the Pines cabin leader. While his cabin was enjoying some games indoors, he noticed one camper sitting alone. After some conversation, Jason learned that the camper planned to get saved that evening after chapel. “I told him that if he wanted, he could accept Christ right then and there,” Jason recalled. “He got excited, and he told me he was ready to get saved. I was able to lead him to the Lord right there.”

While working with the guys basketball camp at NEXT Summer Camps, Colin Wilkerson (So., IL) was thankful to make a difference in campers’ lives. Colin had prayed for the salvation of one boy especially, a foster child who had led a more difficult life than most. After a Wednesday evening service, he was able to lead the boy to Christ. “He really blessed me that week,” said Colin. “Being a counselor at camp has matured me both spiritually and emotionally. I am thankful to have these opportunities to touch young people’s lives with the gospel and help them along the way.”

Developing as Christian Leaders

These PCC students were eager to take part in summer ministries, allowing them further opportunities to develop skills as Christian leaders.

“It has been a joy to be a part of Discover Day Camp as a camp leader this summer,” shared Sabrina Bender (So., NC). This was her first summer participating in YOM summer camps. “I loved working in a Christ-centered and uplifting environment with dedicated coworkers. Our directors fostered a team spirit among us and encouraged us individually and professionally.”

“I can rest knowing that my work does not go unnoticed by God.”

Each week brought new campers, and cabin leaders faced each new opportunity with personal objectives. My goals were to make the new campers feel appreciated and accepted while trying to balance being their leader,” said James Howard (So., IN), a cabin leader for Sports Center Day Camp. He found that connecting with his coworkers was a great way to achieve that. “Developing great work relationships not only helped the flow of work with each other, but also showed the campers you are having a good time with each other.”

Sports Center Day Camp Chapel

Students like Jason found that summer ministry brought him closer to God as well as to his peers. “God gave me the wonderful opportunity to lead the older boys. Even though I was a little worried, He has seen me through, and I have grown more for the better,” he shared. “I have peace in my heart knowing that what I’m a part of here is bringing glory to God and is changing kids’ lives. I may not be able to see the fruits of my labor here on earth, but I can rest knowing that my work does not go unnoticed by God.”

“I have had the opportunity to watch so many of our student leaders grow this summer,” said Dr. Davis. “It is fun to see students be used by God. The look on leaders’ faces the first time that they win someone to Christ is a memory that will last forever. You can’t put a price on the experience of serving the Lord with your friends and enjoying it.”

While the summer camps have ended, the lessons and experiences from each week will last. These cabin leaders soon begin college schedules, but there’ll still be time for continued spiritual growth. Only time will tell how these students continue to pursue opportunities as Christian leaders.