DULUTH — An uptick in attendance and decisions to make a difference for Christ permeated the four summer camps sponsored by Georgia Baptist Mission Board Student Groups and Faith Development, state missionary Doug Couch said recently.
Three out of five camps sold out, he explained. But, all those taking place in Georgia reached capacity. Impact, a discipleship-based camp in Toccoa in early June, held pre-registration for 2017 at the end of the week. However, by the end of the day every slot was filled. Due to that, Couch pointed out more space is already being sought.
“We sense a moving of God’s spirit,” he added.
Beginning with leadership
Previous camps matched the quality of those from this year, said state missionary Brian Bone, also of Student Groups and Faith Development. But, he did notice one difference.
“This year, as always, we watched God work in supernatural ways to redeem students and call them to deeper obedience,” he said. “Our summer camp staff – the 19 young adults serving in a variety of roles at SuperWow – provided a unique experience. I have never been so impressed with such a high degree of spiritual maturity than I was this year.
“These young people were deeply in love with Jesus and worked far beyond the call of duty to see the students of SuperWow experience Christ in powerful ways. It was a joy to watch.”
The evangelistically-based SuperWow followed Impact with two weeks in Fort Walton Beach, FL before closing out June at Jekyll Island. Ending the month, the missions-focused camp Merge took place in Toccoa July 11-15. There, students partnered for outreach projects throughout Stephens County through four levels of involvement. Those levels included visiting nursing homes, painting, constructing wheelchair ramps, and roofing.
Couch said more than 4,500 students from 220 churches attended the camps, with 612 recorded decisions. From among the decisions, some 200 were professions of faith.
Where Christian kids can talk
Couch emphasized that in addition to students learning Scripture, Impact offers something countercultural in today’s world. “It’s a safe place for Christian kids to talk,” he pointed out. “The disintegration of the American family left a huge void for our teenagers. The fields are truly white unto harvest. Today’s generation of students are spiritually, emotionally, and unfortunately, physically hungry.”
Even while continually being stated, one still can’t overstate the challenges students today face, added Bone.
“With the rise of the internet, social media, and smart phones, students today are inundated with more distractions that at any prior point in history. Leaders notice that it’s a challenge to pull their attention away from these distractions for any conversations of depth, especially those of a spiritual nature,” he pointed out.
“Leaders are working incredibly hard to break through the white noise and point students to those few things that hold true value for their lives, both in the present and for eternity.”
One of the biggest challenges for student ministry leaders comes after camp. At that time, new commitments get tested. Bone offered some ways parents and leaders can help.
“Engage them in continued conversation,” he advised. “Ask the student what he or she learned, and what challenged them the most. Ask, ‘What are the things in your life God has called you to change?’ Then, continue to ask them over time if they have been successful in changing those things.
“As a church family, we must become more comfortable probing the next generation with questions that stir accountability if we’re ever going to see lasting life change.”
As Student Groups and Faith Development staff review this summer, plans are already underway for next year as well as the department’s next major gathering. Conclave, a training event for student leaders and volunteers, takes place at the end of January. For more details go to superwow.com or call (770) 936-5234.