Why is Working at Camp the Best Summer Job Ever?

By | Life at Camp, MC Squared, Staff, Summer Camp | No Comments

Hey! My name is Rob Haworth. I am a recent graduate of Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois and I am currently a youth pastor in Omaha, Nebraska. During my years at Olivet, I spent three summers at Miracle Camp (two as a Counselor, one as Head Male Counselor). I still cherish the relationships I built there and count those as some of the most incredible, God-filled times of my life. In the next few paragraphs, I’ll try to describe just what Miracle Camp means to me. It’s an impossible task, really. Try fitting Miracle Camp’s one and only Bankson Lake into a water bottle and you’ll know the struggle; but, as many before me have done, I will try my best to do justice to this amazing place.

The word that comes to mind when I think of camp is “impact.” In almost every testimonial, from staffers and campers alike, the word is everywhere. Miracle Camp’s own mission statement is completely focused on “facilitating life change.” That impact is reflected by the vast majority of summer staff that work at camp because they’ve spent their lives there. The counselors they’ve had, the friendships they’ve made, the messages they’ve heard: it all contributes to a deep desire to invest in that same kind of change in the lives of students. The memories they have and the culture in which they’ve grown up motivate them to serve. I love those stories. But that is not my story.

I was 18 years old, a freshman at Olivet, and I had no clue there was a place called Miracle Camp. I met a guy on my floor, now a good friend of mine, who had worked there before. He talked about it so much, almost like it was a dream. I know what he was feeling now, but back then it kind of freaked me out! He ended up showing me the staff video and, although it looked different than anything I had ever experienced before, it also seemed like a ton of fun. With Christmas break over and the summer looming on the horizon, my search for a job intensified. I knew God was calling me to work with youth, but I didn’t know where. Finally I submitted my application and, long story short, I got the job. I was a counselor at this mystery Christian camp in Michigan.

Staff training arrives and I pull up to camp. The grounds were beautiful and it was all very impressive, but the staff was what blew me away. Immediately I was accepted. I was supported, cared for, and taken into the family. As staff training went on, I began to learn more about what Miracle Camp does, the mission behind it, and the goals it seeks to achieve. Every week during my first two summers as a counselor, I was able to touch the lives of campers and learned more about what Miracle Camp is. Every single day this last summer as head male counselor that I tried to lay down my rights, comfort, and time for the staff so that they could show love painted a clearer picture of camp’s purpose.

The main way camp helped me grow was that it brought 1 John 3:16 to life. I thought I understood the verse, which reads, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters,” before I worked at camp. Looking back, I had no idea what it meant, but I quickly grew in my understanding, prompted by a mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion that brought me to the end of myself. Even now, as I continue striving to look more like Christ , I view that lesson as one of the most valuable that I have ever learned.

Sitting here racking my brain for the words to express everything camp that is into a neat concluding paragraph, I understand that this is an impossible task. I can’t think of words or phrases to sum it up. This isn’t writer’s block, though. My mind is anything but blank. The issue is that when I think of camp, I don’t think of words; I see faces. The people serving next to me all summer; the campers having a blast in a game or experiencing God in a chapel service; the laughter, the exhaustion, the tears: they all come flooding back bringing with them memories that perfectly describe what Miracle Camp is. What make Miracle Camp special are the people. It’s a staff united by one faith, energized by one Spirit, striving towards one mission. It’s God working through His servants to bring joy, show love, and build His Kingdom. That’s what Miracle Camp is. That’s Bankson in a bottle.

Check out this video from my first summer at camp to see a tiny glimpse of some of the things that I’ve experienced here at Miracle Camp and Retreat Center.

Why Should You Work at Camp?

By | Life at Camp, MC Squared, Staff, Summer Camp | No Comments

My name is Maddie Short, and I am a senior at Indiana Wesleyan University. I have grown up going to camp since second grade and been apart of the camp aide program. The past three summers I have taken the role of assistant counselor and lifeguard, waterfront director, and videographer!

I almost think it might be easier for me to write about what summer camp HASN’T taught me, because I have really learned that much from my experiences.

Equating the experience of a summer at camp to a couple paragraphs is like trying to describe a color. You can’t formulate a sentence that fully gives an idea of what it looks like, without seeing it firsthand. Thus, camp is truly something that you have to experience in order to fully understand it.

When you work at Miracle Camp you choose to work for an organization that truly lives out their mission statement every day. You work with a group of people who plan their entire summer around that mission statement, and stick to it. Working here has taught me more about living life, and helped me gain a multitude of skills.

The motivation that one has to work at camp may be different from another. Personally, my inspiration came from the fact that I have gone to camp my entire life. To this day, there are certain counselors and assistant counselors that I still look up to. It might have only been one thing they said or did during my week at camp, but somehow it stuck with me until now. I remember each of my counselors and the summers that they gave me. I remember the way they loved the Lord and how they encouraged me to pursue my own relationship with the Lord. After having worked at camp for three summers, campers’ have reached out and contacted me directly outside of camp. They share small, simple stories or words of encouragement regarding what they learned at camp, and how it impacted them years later. It is these small reminders from campers that make the time invested all worth it. 

So that’s the inspiration behind it, now what did I learn from all my experiences and how did I grow? Well, first and foremost, I gained an understanding of selflessness. I didn’t fully understand this concept until I started working at camp. Camp taught me what it means to lay down the “rights” I think I deserve, and instead put the consideration of others first. Honestly, when I work at camp, I don’t really have a choice to be selfish. It’s almost is a natural way to teach myself how to serve others in the way God calls me to, with a humble heart and with the desire to serve those around me.

The list of practical and intangible skills could go on and on. I have developed better communication and relational skills with campers, parents, staff members, and superiors. Without effective communication, camp could not run. So, clear and concise communication is practiced throughout the entirety of the summer. One of the greatest takeaways I’ve gained is the ability to creatively think. Creative thinking happens in all different forms: group collaboration, self-initiative, when in a time constraint, or during planning sessions throughout the start of the summer. Nonetheless, creative programming is one of camp’s values, so it has been instilled in my blood since I have started working there. There have been many times where we had something planned, and due to weather or another circumstance, we had about 15 minutes to come up with a new plan for 200 campers. Surprisingly, situations like this were more frequent than the staff hoped, but looking back, these were some of my favorite times. Honestly, some of the best games were developed through situations when we were under pressure! There are so many opportunities at camp that allow for creativity within group collaboration.

One of the greatest blessings from working at camp results in the immense growth that takes place within. The entire summer is centered around Christ, so it gives the unique opportunity of practicing putting Christ at the center of all we do. I learned how to rely not on my own strength, but to rely on him through times when I was tired from a crazy week. There are so many opportunities to grow spiritually. I found myself growing the most through the set aside time for personal devotions, as well as the opportunity to listen to many different speakers presenting the gospel to the kids each week! There was always someone on staff who was willing to talk or listen, and grow alongside of me. Because the foundation of these friendships rests on the truth of Christ, I have formed some my best friendships through camp.

Aside from the intangible skills, I have also learned practical “camp” skills. You name it: ziplining, paintballing, outdoor games, campfire building, beach preparation, boat care, driving tubers, dodgeball, and essentially, turning anything into a game. In my role as the videographer, I stepped into it with zero knowledge. Up until the month before coming to camp, I had essentially never picked up a camera. Nonetheless, I knew my staff would support me in this role and it was a skillset I was excited to learn. It took a lot of research, time, and dedication, but because of camp, I learned video skills that I can use outside of camp, and are now contributing to my future today.

To wrap all of this up: I work at camp because I love the campers. I love that my creativity, confidence, and faith has been developed. And I love the relationships with staff members that I have developed. I work at camp because the Lord has given me the ability and opportunity to bless others by working for him through this ministry.

A summer at camp isn’t just a period of time in your life, rather it becomes a part of who you are and helps shape who you become. Words limit the fullness of my own personal camp experience, so I encourage you to experience it yourself and see what I have tried to describe. My greatest advice to anyone interested in working on summer staff? Apply now.

Click here to apply for this year’s summer staff!

Check out one of Maddie’s videos from this summer!

Over Half Way to Our $300,000 Matching Goal!

By | Giving, Keeping Faith, Projects | No Comments

Thank you 167,000 times over!

 

It is through your generosity that we were able to raise $334,000, during the month of December, for the Keeping Faith Campaign. We received $167,000 from individual donors that was matched by another devoted friend of camp. Your generosity is evident and appreciated.

I am humbled by the faithfulness of God’s people. I am humbled by how God uses this place to aid the local church and further His kingdom. The work that is done here is because of faithful friends like you.

For us, there is no greater calling in this world than preaching Jesus, living Jesus, loving Jesus and worshipping Jesus. When Jesus is the main focus and impacts a life, the ripple effect is immeasurable.

In the long run, the Keeping Faith Evergreen Project provides us with the opportunity to become financially sustainable by increasing our income so that it matches our expenses. This, in turn, will allow us to focus our donations on facility upkeep, the guest experience, maintaining affordable programmed camps and improving the campus.

You can still help. Every donation counts. We have until the end of 2017 to raise another $133,000. Funds that can all be matched!

As you reflect on how God has impacted your life, and thousands of other lives, please prayerfully consider joining us in this mission with a financial gift and/or volunteering your time to help construct this project. Your gifts help us share the hope that is found in Jesus, impact lives for the Kingdom, and strengthen the ministry of the local church.

Our ministry depends on the generous support of churches and individuals.

To make a secure gift online, please visit www.miraclecamp.com/giving. For those interested in assisting in the construction, please contact Larry@miraclecamp.com.

 

Thank you for responding with joyful generosity!

In His Arms,

Jonathan L. Hyde

Executive Director

Impact Beyond the Campers

By | Staff, Summer Camp, Video | No Comments

If you read my earlier blog post, you were able to see how much I enjoy summer camp. Now that I am the Youth Retreat Director here at camp, I have the privilege of hiring around 50 Christian college students who come from all around the midwest, including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan. Being on summer staff for four years, I know that these summers can be very impactful in the lives of the staff.

Here are three things that working at Miracle Camp showed me:

1. GOD’S HEART

God loves his creation and finds immense pleasure in demonstrating love to that which he made—especially man, who he created in his own image. He loves and blesses his people in hopes that they go and be a blessing to others. Working at Miracle Camp, I was able to be a blessing to fifty other staff members all summer as well as countless kids each week. I did this by spending time with others, valuing them, and encouraging them in their faith. In turn, I was blessed immensely by other staff pouring into me and campers teaching me things by the questions they asked or the encouraging things they said to me. It was a beautiful representation of how God designed people to work together in community. As one of my professors taught me: God brings people together so that he can bless them and so that they can bless each other!

2. WHO AM I?

Working and living in a God-fearing community made me secure in my identity in Christ. On top of that, I learned how God shaped and gifted me differently than others. I am good at organization, details, and creative thinking—and I used those to glorify God at Miracle Camp. I grew in my confidence and ability to engage in public speaking by leading devotions for campers and explaining camp games. I loved the ministry of camp and the campers I got to interact with—and God used some very specific conversations to affirm my call into ministry!

3. REAL-LIFE SKILLS

Each week the full-time staff at Miracle Camp and countless parents entrusted me and the rest of the summer staff with their children. We were responsible to keep kids safe, help them enjoy all the fun that camp has to offer, and most importantly, help them grow closer to God. I learned so much about discernment, using good judgement, and responsibly exercising authority; skills which have helped me grow as a leader and prepare me for the work I am doing today. In addition, I also learned how to communicate with my peers, resolve conflict, and work as part of a team. I feel confident in saying that Camp equipped me with these skills better than any internship ever could.

Check out this video to see a glimpse of what a week of summer camp is like!

Wonder What Would It Be Like to Work at Miracle Camp?

By | MC Squared, Staff, Summer Camp, Video | No Comments

My name is Eric Rupp, and I am currently serving as the Youth Program Director at Miracle Camp and Retreat Center. One of the highlights of my job is overseeing the summer camp program each year—a program that changed my life a few years ago…

I was about five or six years old the first time I got to experience Miracle Camp. My dad was a volunteer bus driver for our church and my family and I often rode along with him to drop kids off for their week of summer camp. On those Sundays, I got an up-close glimpse of Miracle Camp: the smiles of joy on campers’ faces, the beautiful lake, the amazing activities, and of course, how incredible the staff seemed. I could not wait until I was old enough to go to camp myself.

My first time actually attending Miracle Camp was when I was in third grade—and it was everything I hoped it would be! I quickly realized, though, that the thing that made Miracle Camp special was not the fun, the energy, or the games (though all of that was awesome!), but that God worked in this place. Every day, I had time set aside for reading my Bible, memorizing verses, cabin devotions, and chapel sessions. I felt like I learned more about God in this one week than the whole rest of the year! This was different than anything I had ever experienced before—everyone at Miracle Camp was excited about knowing God more and living in a way that glorifies him. The college counselors that modeled this in their lives were a huge encouragement and blessing to me in my faith.

This growth carried over into my life once I got home from Camp. I was genuinely excited to go to church and read my Bible for myself. I will always be extremely thankful to my parents and my church for making it possible for me to go to Miracle Camp.

Miracle Camp quickly became a second home to me. I developed friendships with people from different churches all across the midwest, and I looked forward to seeing them each time I came back. I attended many retreats all through junior high and high school and eventually got to serve on staff for four summers while I was in college. Those four years I served on summer staff absolutely changed my life. I still look back on those summers fondly and to this day they are some of my favorite memories of all time.

As I reflect on my summer staff experience, I have to say that it was the greatest leadership training I ever received—and none of it took place in the classroom. I learned it all through actually leading. Each and every day, I was challenged to die to myself and put other staff and campers’ needs above my own. I worked longer and harder than any other time in my life, and I had to work through a lot of mistakes as I figured out what did and didn’t work.

The lessons I learned weren’t the only thing—the people I worked with back then are now my closest friends that I know I’ll have for a lifetime. And the ways that I grew to trust God more during each of those summers have formed me into the man of faith that I am today.

I know that working at summer camp is not the only place God works or teaches these lessons, but I also know how incredible my own experience working on summer staff was and how much I learned and grew as result. So for those reasons, I hope everyone considers working at summer camp at some point!

To give you a little taste of what working on summer staff is like, check out this video of the 2016 Summer Staff!

Keeping Faith Rewind: Shelly Sysum

By | Family Camp, Keeping Faith, MC Squared, Summer Camp, Video, Women's Retreat | No Comments

This Keeping Faith Rewind is about Shelly Sysum, someone who has known Miracle Camp and Retreat Center her whole life. Shelly’s family has been involved at camp since it was purchased in 1965 from the Notre Dame football team and she and her family now attend many of camp’s retreats such as family camp, summer camp, and women’s retreat. Watch the video and see how Miracle Camp has impacted Shelly’s life, and the life of her family, from the very beginning!

Thanks for your consistent prayers and support!

Keeping Faith Rewind: Sydney’s Story

By | Keeping Faith, MC Squared, Summer Camp | No Comments

This week’s Keeping Faith Rewind is Sydney’s story. Sydney has been a summer camp attendee for the past 9 years and counting. She’s an example of students whose whole lives have been impacted and shaped by the ministry of Miracle Camp and Retreat Center. Enjoy rewatching Sydney’s story.

As you do, remember that we have just announced a $300,000 matching gift opportunity that will allow more campers like Sydney to attend events like summer camp or youth group winter retreat each year.

Announcing: Matching Gift Opportunity

By | Giving, Keeping Faith, Projects | No Comments

We just recently announced the launch of the Evergreen Project, part of our Keeping Faith Campaign. We received exciting news shortly after: a very good friend of Miracle Camp has agreed to issue a $300,000 matching challenge toward this project. This means that every gift given will be matched dollar for dollar up to this amount.

This project will enable us to host up to 850 more people each year…which is so many more lives that are able to grow closer to God. You can give toward this project online at miraclecamp.com/keepingfaith.

Here’s a few drawings of the project for those who are interested!

Announcing: The Evergreen Project

By | Giving, Keeping Faith, MC Squared, Projects | No Comments

Fifty years of history. One unchanging mission.

Whether Miracle Camp impacted your life 5 weeks, 5 months, 5 years or 5 decades ago, we remain committed to facilitating life change by helping people grow closer to Jesus and supporting the ministry of the local church.

We are humbled by the impact Miracle Camp has had on the kingdom. When we look back at what God has done, we see glimpses of His goodness and a constant stream of lives impacted. A stream that we know creates a ripple effect on the kingdom; people who have crossed the line of faith, accepted their call into ministry, or had their faith strengthened and then impact others for Christ. We believe God has positioned this place to be a catalyst that impacts the world for Christ.

As you reflect on how God has impacted your life, and thousands of other lives, please prayerfully consider joining us in this mission with a gift. You will be making a significant Kingdom investment. Miracle Camp depends upon the voluntary generosity of affiliate churches and supporting individuals. Your gifts help us share the hope that is found in Jesus, impact lives for the kingdom, and strengthen the ministry of the local church.

To make a secure gift online, please visit www.miraclecamp.com/giving.

For more information about the Evergreen Project please visit our Keeping Faith page.