Opinions

A Place Apart: An Unorthodox Path to Ministry

      Growing up as a youth pastor’s daughter, I had the privilege of getting involved in a lot of different ministries. From the time when I was a child in diapers until now, I was always highly involved in Presbyterian church camps. From graduating high school to being a junior in college I have been a counselor at five different camps all all over the country. This experience has helped me meet hundreds of presbyterian church members and congregations. My camp journey started when I was a  four year old stumbling up the steps of an old, wooden beat up lodge at Cedarkirk Presbyterian Church camp located in Lithia, Florida. Cedarkirk was the first church camp I attended as a young girl.

      Cedarkirk was a great camp to learn about Christ through unorthodox ways. I attended youth retreats at Cedarkirk as a young girl, and I eventually went back to work there as a camp counselor when I was a sophomore in college. At Cedarkirk, I was able to do things to help benefit tiny communities in Florida. The camp itself has a Challenge to Change program where church groups are challenged to go out into the community and restore old houses, schools, and facilities that have been damaged by hurricanes or other causes. The place was repairing an old school house classroom that was connected to a food pantry. Although, the programs at Cedarkirk taught me many things, my journey with camps did not start or end with this camp.

      Before going to Cedarkirk, I got my start as a camp counselor at Kirkwood Presbyterian Camp located in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Kirkwood is a camp that is near and dear to my heart. Kirkwood taught me about perseverance and resilience. The summer I attended Kirkwood as a counselor was a very important summer for the camp because the camp administration was determining whether or not to keep the camp open. Through a lot of hard work and not taking no for an answer, the camp was able to stay open. Kirkwood taught me that no matter what the circumstance is, the most important thing about Church Camp ministry is to make sure that the campers are able to hear that Jesus loves them. After Cedarkirk and Kirkwood I learned exactly what this meant at Heartland Presbyterian camps.

      I had the opportunity of going to Heartland Presbyterian camps this summer to be a Lead Activities Coordinator. Heartland showed me what it means to be completedlydevoted to Christ because the people there showed me how to truly love my neighbor as myself. Although Eastern is sometimes seen as a well built community, the community at Heartland was the most supportive and inclusive community that I have ever become a part of. Without the experience I had at Heartland, Cedarkirk and Kirkwood I would of not become the person I am today.

      The experiences I had at camp are something that everyone needs to experience at least once. Whether this be volunteering or working I recommend that you get involved in some type of camp ministry because it is a way to worship Jesus and have the experience of a lifetime. Camp has taught me what it means to be involved in ministry, what it means to be a part of a community that builds up the body of Christ in love.

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