This summer I had the opportunity to serve as an intern with the Light of the Village and to work specifically with Camp Hope in Prichard, Alabama. Going into this summer, I had no idea what to expect. I kept running all of the previous summer Bible camps I have attended through my mind trying to figure out some type of idea about how the camp would run from day to day. About two weeks before I was to report to training, I was still unprepared. I thought that since I have been through so many types of Bible camps that this would be a piece of cake. Throughout training week I became pretty nervous. I researched known facts about the city of Prichard and the people that lived there. What I found honestly scared me. For a second, I thought that I was in way over my head, and boy was I right.
I continued to pray every day leading up to the first day of camp, hoping and praying that God would give me the abilities to work with these children and be able to be the proper role model that they need in their lives. The first week of camp wasn’t so bad. But the first week is always the honeymoon week. By week two, I knew for sure I was way in over my head. I had never experienced kids like this before. Not that our kids were bad, but their environment is. Trying to get them to settle down and pay attention to the Bible lesson and to show respect was, at first, almost impossible. I knew the only way to get through to the kids was to first go through God.
There is no way I could have ever done this without the power of God. Throughout this summer God has taught me more than I have ever learned before, not only about how awesome and powerful He truly is, but also about how he can use anyone and everyone for the good of His overall, divine purpose. I was skeptical at first about my abilities to teach to Gospel to these teenage boys in a way that they could understand on a personal level. But then I quickly realized that it didn’t matter if I had those abilities or not because God gave me those abilities this summer. God used me as His light and as His messenger to these children so that they could hear the Gospel, but not just hear it but also be able to understand it on a personal level. So overall, was I in over my head? You better believe it! But it doesn’t matter. God put me here, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
So that was my camp experience, which was AWESOME! But, I should also mention the awesome people I got to meet while I was here. The night before training started we had a dinner for all of the interns from all three camp sites. Many of the interns already knew each other, but I was an outsider. Now, for those of you reading this that don’t know me, I am a very shy person by myself. I am never outgoing and find it very difficult to just jump into a room of complete strangers and start making friends. So it goes without saying that this dinner was very awkward for me. But two random guys, Bryan and Austin came up and introduced themselves to me and it turned out we all were to work at the same camp. These two guys immediately sparked conversation with me and made me feel welcome.
Throughout the week of training, I met the other interns from Camp Hope as well as the interns from the other camps. Each of these interns is unique in his or her own way. And that’s part of what makes them so awesome. Throughout the summer with dinner at each other’s houses and intern outings, I have become the best of friends with all of the interns, especially those from Camp Hope. In fact, I officially became a part of “Bubba” [Bryan, Branson (myself), and Austin = BBA]. This official term came into play around week two, and by then I knew I was already part of the family. And that’s how I feel when I’m with these guys. Not just Austin and Bryan, but with all of the interns. We were all there for each other in our ups and downs because it’s true; we are ALL family.
There are a few more people whom I have yet to mention, such as Mr. John and Mrs. Dolores who founded the Light of the Village. But I have to put a little emphasis on Camp Hope’s fearless leader, Morgan. I really don’t think that Camp Hope could have stayed afloat without her. She is by far the most awesome person out of all of us, and I owe her an enormous debt of gratitude. Through Morgan’s extravert personality, we as interns and staff grew a lot closer together. Morgan had everything down to a “T” throughout the whole summer. And even when things didn’t go according to plan, she was always able to improvise until she got things back on track. To be able to run a summer Bible camp in Prichard, Alabama takes an enormous amount of strength, dedication, and determination. Her love for these kids goes far beyond just wanting to teach them the Gospel. She really does care for these children and wants to see them excel in life, not just physically but also spiritually.
This post certainly turned out to be longer than I originally planned, but it’s all good! This summer was by far one of the best I have ever had. Not just because of the lifelong friends that I have made, but because of the things that God was able to do in me and through me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a bitter sweet ending to the summer, but I’m already excited to come back next summer and jump right back in and see what else God has in store. And who knows, I might even have a tag along with me next summer!