Lives Changed, Numbers Strong at Covenant Camps This Summer

Post a Comment » Written on September 28th, 2009     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (September 28, 2009) – The staff of Covenant Pines Bible Camp in McGregor, Minnesota, sang “Jesus Loves Me” to the high school students just as they always do at the final campfire, but they didn’t expect the experience to be so moving for one of the teenagers.

The girl returned to her cabin and told the counselor she had just decided to invite Christ into her heart, recalls Executive Director Bruce Peterson. The counselor asked why the teenager made the decision, and she replied, “After the staff sang ‘Jesus Loves Me,’ I got it.”

Directors of Evangelical Covenant Church camps report that many students—and even staff—had life-changing experiences at camp this summer. They add that despite the struggling economy, some camps even reported record attendance.

Hundreds of campers made decisions to follow Christ or rededicated their lives, directors report. Often the camp went out of its way to provide opportunities. For example, in Swanzey, New Hampshire, Pilgrim Pines camp staff worked with a local elementary school and guidance counselor to provide a safe, positive, and encouraging week for three local children, says Executive Director Dave Cairns.

Camp programs also gave participants an opportunity to better understand and respond to the needs of others. Campers donated roughly $38,000 to help the Colombia Covenant Church purchase a camp the denomination has used for two years and has begun to make modifications on the facility. Some of the funding also will help fund a camping project in Russia.

Students who attended Covenant Bay Bible Camp in Alberta served in a food kitchen located about 45 minutes away. “They met second generation crack addicts and dealers and met a mother who just lost her son in a gang murder,” says Jon Drebert, director of ministries. “The life situations were shocking for some campers, but what was even more shocking to them was that they were just people like you and me who needed to be loved.”

“What made this really hit home is when some of our campers saw friends at the soup kitchen,” he adds. “This was sobering experience for all of us, but more importantly the campers got an opportunity to serve and be used by God. Many of the clients of the soup kitchen felt loved simply because these young people took time to serve them and be with them. This is what makes ministry worth doing.”

Camp counselors also were impacted by experiences during the summer. One of the lead counselors at Covenant Harbor Bible Camp and Retreat Center in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, decided to transfer from the University of Illinois, where he is studying biology, so that he could attend North Park University and pursue youth ministry.

“The Lord began making it clear to me through this second summer at Covenant Harbor that I’m more fulfilled when I am sharing his love through praying with staff, working with campers, and leading staff devotions than I am in my current career path,” he told Executive Director Ray Warren.

Despite the struggling economy, camp attendance was generally good and even better than expected.

“Including family camp, we had 56 more campers than last year for an all-time record of 2,468 campers,” says Warren. He adds, that due to the difficult economy, Covenant Harbor also gave an increased number of scholarships and dispersed $38,000 in assistance.

Cathy Neal, director of Trailblazer Camp for the Southeast Conference, says the camp celebrated its fifth year with record attendance. A DVD of the camp will be posted on the conference website.

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