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Staff

Present in the Details

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The newest t-shirt arrivals hang at the front of the room. Everything from drawstring bags to stuffed animals to jogger sweatpants and hats line the shelves. The freezer is stocked with chipwiches – a Miracle Camp classic. Assistant Cabin Leader Emma Zenz places the finishing touch on the merchandise before turning the sign to “OPEN” as kids gather at the door. She runs the Trading Post, our camp store, which is an especially popular place during Summer Camp.

Emma can’t contain her excitement as she beams: “I LOVE my job.” She’s one of our 18 Assistant Cabin Leaders for the summer and is from Northwest Ohio. Emma’s involvement with Miracle Camp began over ten years ago, ever since she was old enough to attend: first as a camper, then a Camp Aide; simultaneously, her family has been a part of Family Camp for eight years. Her roots at Miracle Camp shaped her love for ministry, which she wants to pursue vocationally. When Summer Camp ends, she will begin her Freshman year at Moody Bible Institute studying Youth Ministry. Therefore, this summer job aligned perfectly with her hopes for the future.

The essence of being an Assistant Cabin Leader is to serve alongside the Cabin Leader so that they can lead the campers well. This means helping facilitate conversations, allowing the Cabin Leader to have one-on-one time with each camper, leading devotions on the Cabin Leader’s night off, and much more. Intentionality is huge regarding interacting with the campers because they are only with the cabins at specific times, such as meals and certain activities.

Each Assistant Cabin Leader has a specific job in addition to helping lead. Some are assigned roles in areas such as Hospitality, Outdoor Adventure, Lifeguarding, Health Office, and Shake Up Kalamazoo. In Emma’s job at the Trading Post, she oversees inventory, preorders, stocking, and opens during free time for campers to visit. “Specifically in my Trading Post job, I get to connect with a lot of campers,” Emma says. “I like to make it a safe and inviting place. Campers can come in knowing their company is wanted if they don’t have friends to hang out with.”

While Cabin Leaders see a more obvious side of spiritual growth in campers, Emma offers a unique perspective of Assistant Cabin Leaders. “We get to see God cultivate conversations not only in devos, but even in free time.” She goes on to describe that even though something may not be seen as “spiritual,” God is still present. “I’ve seen God unite cabins through games and dance parties,” she explains. “He can initiate conversations over ice cream; you don’t have to only be in chapel or small groups to talk about Him.”

The Assistant Cabin Leader role balances out the Cabin Leader role as each position focuses on different aspects, yet both put Christ at the center. Assistant Cabin Leaders are able to step in and bring a new energy or support their Cabin Leaders in the most helpful way, even through simple details. Emma notes that even the details are important when it comes to the bigger picture of the gospel. She loves getting excited about “the little things that help campers get excited. When we make the gospel something we get excited about as well, it’s contagious.”

To find out more about becoming a future Assistant Cabin Leader, click the button below!

Leading by Following

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Meal-time chants. Dodgeball. Team-building. Afternoons on the water. Reading and reflection time. Worship and soaking in speaker messages. All these contribute to the familiarities of Summer Camp. The general structure sets the rhythm even though every week looks different from the next. “So much can happen inside each week,” Cabin Leader Kendall Miyakawa says. He enjoys the balance of an incredibly fun week while also leading the kids spiritually.

This summer is Kendall’s first experience with Miracle Camp. Born and raised in Indianapolis, he also spent seven years in Thailand, and considers both places his home. One of his high school teachers grew up coming to Miracle Camp and told him about the opportunity. Kendall is currently a sophomore at Taylor University, which is where he met several people who spent their summers at Miracle Camp. He discovered more details about working here from a friend and applied to be a Cabin Leader.

Now he’s about to wrap up a full summer of camp, reflecting on his time here and recognizing how God has been working: “I’ve had to learn a lot about finishing up one week, having expectations for how the next week is going to go, and learning to drop those.” Realizing that each camper comes with a different background and worldview, a large part of being a Cabin Leader has meant discovering what each camper needs and learning to connect in the best way, rather than walking into a week with a set plan. “You never know what direction a camper’s heart will go,” he notes. As a Cabin Leader, you need to “be sensitive to how the Lord is working inside each of your campers and do your best to meet their needs.”

The Cabin Leader role encompasses many aspects with one focus: pointing campers to Jesus. Miracle Camp trains each Cabin Leader to share Jesus, and weekly meetings occur to aid in that training and pray for opportunities to utilize it. This not only directly impacts the campers, but the Cabin Leaders get to carry that training over to relationships outside of Camp. As Cabin Leaders interact with campers, they are reminded to model the hospitality of Jesus. They embody this by connecting through one-on-ones, which are intentional times spent with each camper. This time is built into the schedule to listen to individual needs of the campers and speak the truth of Jesus over their lives. For Kendall, this involves asking questions and getting some perspective. He looks for relevant ways to share the Gospel as he listens to the Spirit for what each kid needs to hear.

Cabin Leaders begin their day with team prayer and personal devotional time. They implement their training as they pour into their campers by reflecting on chapel sessions, playing hard in games and activities, laughing together at meals, and meeting for one-on-ones. Sharing the gospel directly may not always happen, and Cabin Leaders may not see campers meet Jesus for the first time, but the training helps them prepare for those moments and glorify Christ through their actions. Kendall enjoys facilitating cabin discussions and seeing the campers invest in and encourage each other. One of his favorite parts of Summer Camp is seeing how campers arrive on Sunday and where they are when they leave on Saturday – the transformation that takes place. Cabin leaders have a unique front seat to the work God is doing in each of the campers. Miracle Camp is grateful for each Cabin Leader and their energy, intentionality, and servanthood as they exemplify Christ.

To find out more about becoming a future Cabin Leader, click the button below!

The Framework of Summer Camp

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Planning details is both necessary and important, but when you work in an environment like Summer Camp, flexibility is a key part of the job description, especially for Olivia Gramling. She is one of two Assistant Program Directors for Summer Camp, serving alongside 11 other Program Office (PO) staff members. Her role is difficult to describe because essentially her job is to make everyone else’s job easier. She works to pick up the pieces to make sure the other staff can accomplish their jobs.

The PO is responsible for running Summer Camp. With this team, leadership is the focus as they plan Summer Camp along with Eric Rupp, the Program Director. Additionally, they serve by helping other staff members, coming up with ideas, and more.

Planning Summer Camp is no easy undertaking, and while the groundwork begins months in advance, much of the preparation takes place onsite. Officially, the PO members spend a week of intensive training before the rest of Summer Staff arrives for two weeks of training. Orientation is a large part of this time, as well as getting familiar with the team and the flow of camp. During this week, the brainstorming begins to form the big picture. “It all comes together when you’re together,” Olivia says. “You work off of each other.”

A typical day for the PO varies depending on the circumstances, but there is a general structure. They meet every morning to get on the same page and determine who needs help with what activities. The day is a mix of planning schedules for the next week, facilitating the current week, setting up and tearing down, and being available for any changes that arise. These regular assignments create a routine for the PO.

Olivia describes Miracle Camp as her “second home”; she began attending as a second grader and never missed a year. She heard about Camp through her friends and her church that is affiliated with the FEC. After participating as a camper, she became a Camp Aide, then a Summer Staff member before joining PO, making this her second year serving as Assistant Program Director. Olivia’s position fits her well because she enjoys the behind-the-scenes work and her love language is acts of service: “I get to minister to the staff, who ministers to the kids, and that’s what I want to do in life.” After this summer, Olivia will begin a year-long fellowship at Sky Ranch in Texas.

“When you’re hired at Miracle Camp,” Olivia goes on to say, “you know that everyone is here for the same reasons, especially on PO. We’re all in similar walks of life, figuring out our faith together, and I value that a lot.”

The other Program Office staff members are:

Tanner Young – Activities Coordinator
Gabe Short & Olivia Gramling – Assistant Program Directors
Natalie Hoffmire & Jason Kimball – Head Male & Female Cabin Leaders
Lyndsey Rupp – Videographer
Jacie Smeltzer – Photographer
Annie Niedeck & Brett Holder – Camp Aide Coordinators
Mallory Tyree – Chapel Coordinator
Ellie Rupp – Health Assistant
Sarah Faivre – Head Lifeguard

If you would like to find out more about Summer Camp employment, click the button below!

What We Teach Our Summer Staff: Fun!

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With our staff all here and campers coming in just a few short days we are so excited to share with you how our staff is preparing for Summer Camp and how much we long for your camper to have the best week ever!

FUN!

It might sound shallow, but we truly hope that every camper has one of the best weeks of their life while they are at Miracle Camp. We truly do believe that campers have as much fun here as at Disney World!

CREATIVE PROGRAMMING

Our summer staff makes it a priority to put in the extra effort to plan creative activities for Summer Camp. Our all camp games, like Gold Rush, are some of our favorite activities that we program. Every year, we love using our creativity to provide new and excited games and activities for our campers.

THINGS YOU CAN’T DO AT HOME

We have be blessed with lots of awesome things that provide an experience that is way different from anything that our campers could do at home over the summer. Some of our favorites include our zipline, climbing wall, tubing, the blob, paintball, and so much more!

MEANINGFUL FRIENDSHIPS

Camp wouldn’t be the same without the other campers and staff members that your child will meet while they are here at camp. It always brings a smile to our faces to see the friendships that campers can make after just a week of being together.

It is such a joy to us to see campers having one of the best weeks of their lives here at Summer Camp. If you would like to check out more about Summer Camp, or if you would like to register, click on the button below!

What We Teach Our Summer Staff: Spiritual Growth

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Our Program Office staff has been here for almost a week now preparing for Summer Camp this year! We are so excited for the rest of our summer staff to arrive this upcoming Tuesday and begin training for this summer. As we touched on last week, safety is our number one priority. Right along with it, though, spiritual growth is one of the main reasons we exist and put so much effort into our Summer Camps.

SPIRITUAL GROWTH

Right behind safety, our second priority at summer camp is to make sure that each camper grows closer to God while they are here. We want to make sure that the Bible is preached clearly and relevantly to every camper and that each counselor challenges campers to apply God’s word to their life. Our desire is to see you son or daughter learn more about Jesus Christ and grow in their walk with Him.

ONE ON ONES

Another way that we encourage and challenge your child in their walk with the Lord is through one on one conversations they have with their cabin leader. These discussions are put into place so that each cabin leader can help each camper grow closer to God personally. Our staff is trained to challenge students to read and apply God’s word and to spend time in prayer.

CHAPEL SESSIONS

Campers get to experience 2 chapel sessions each day that include worship and a Bible teacher who will communicate God’s word on a level relevant to the age of the campers. We believe that the Bible is powerful and changes lives and we want campers to experience this each week.

DAILY DEVOTIONS

After the morning chapel session, campers will spend some time outside with their Bible and daily devotional. Our desire is to see campers reading and studying God’s Word both here at camp and continue these habits as they go home. Each cabin will also come together after each evening chapel session for cabin devotions. These times provide a space for cabin leaders to lead discussions on what the speaker talked about during the session and allow campers to see how this topic applies to their life now.

Our staff is focused on helping people know God in a deeper way. We believe that relationships are the heart of ministry and each summer, our Summer Staff will pour their hearts and lives into the campers in their care. If you want to see more about what Summer Camp is like, click on the button below!

What We Teach Our Summer Staff: Safety

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Our Summer Staff starts arriving to camp in just a few short days! As we prepare for this summer, we want to give you a little insight on some of the things we teach our Summer Staff!

SAFETY

Our first summer camp priority is safety and we take it very seriously. We have safety training, policies and background checks in place to ensure your camper will have a safe week of camp. But the most important thing we do for safety is take hiring seriously. We believe that our staff is one of the safest summer camp teams in the nation.

During our staff training, we spend numerous sessions preparing our staff for a myriad of issues that could arise during a week of Summer Camp, including topics such as homesickness, bullying, and what to do in an emergency situation. We prepare our staff to always value safety over any other aspect of camp. Each week of summer camp, we have trained medical staff who are qualified to handle a potential emergency situation. We take every precaution to make sure everything we do is as safe as possible and we make sure we are prepared if an injury or emergency should arise. We also hire 8 lifeguards to be at the waterfront during free time, which is 6 more than is required by law.

Safety is the most important aspect of our Summer Camp and we do everything that we can to make sure you child is safe while they are here at camp. If you would like more information about our Summer Camps, click on the button below!

The Job That Changes Lives.

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I still remember the first time I got the call telling me I was going to be a counselor at Miracle Camp.  Sitting in my dorm lobby at college, playing a game with some friends, I stepped out to answer the phone.  When I came back, I was beaming.  I couldn’t wait to tell all my college friends how excited I was.  Being primarily from the East Coast, none of them knew Camp, so they didn’t quite get it.  But it didn’t matter.  I was ecstatic.  And it was only the beginning.

Looking back at the three summers I spent on summer staff, I couldn’t be more thankful for my experiences.  God used each moment at camp to teach me, grow me, and mold me more into His image.  During my first summer as a counselor, God taught me about his provision.  He showed me time and time again that my own strength, love, spiritual insight, or sleep schedule didn’t have to be enough – as they almost never were!  Each day brought new challenges, and in each new challenge, God showed me another way He is all-sufficient.  I would encourage anyone who wants to see God break down walls and change lives to spend even one day at camp.  You can’t miss it.

After my first summer, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to go back.  I wanted to more than anything, but as an engineering student, I was facing certain expectations for internships and research experiences – especially with my goal of pursing a graduate degree.  That, along with family circumstances, kept me at home the next summer.  But if I learned anything in my first summer, it was that God is not limited by something like internship requirements.  Looking back, I can clearly see the path the Lord laid out before me.  In His timing, internships happened, research opportunities arose at school, and I was able to meet all of my requirements, and still have not one, but two more opportunities to serve at Miracle Camp for the summer.  God was teaching me to rely on Him even in the process of getting back to camp.

My next two summers were spent in leadership roles, and God used the opportunity to teach me something very different.  As a leader, God gave me a chance to pour into the lives of other staff members and provide the same mentoring that had such an impact on me my first summer.  God also used this time to challenge me to seek nothing before Him and help others do the same.  Because God called me back to camp, I was able to share with kids and staff about His goodness as I walked with my family though some dark valleys.  Praise God for His faithfulness and grand design.  I am encouraged whenever I look back and see how obvious His hands are in every experience I have had at Camp.

Working at Miracle Camp has left me forever changed.  God used my time serving on staff to challenge me, to provide the spiritual nourishment I needed most, and provide me with lifelong mentors and friends, and I couldn’t be more thankful.  Looking back, it’s easy to forget all of the frustrating moments, the annoying bug bites, and the late nights.  What stick out most are all the moments when God did far more than all I could ask or imagine.  And those make all the difference.

If you would like more information on working on summer staff, head to www.miraclecamp.com/summeremployment!

The Best Summer Job. Ever.

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If someone had told me I would be working at Miracle Camp last summer, I would not have believed them. At the beginning of last year, I asked God to break the fears that have held me down for so long and to be able to share it with others. Little did I know that God had a plan in place for me to work at Miracle Camp all along. Miracle Camp encompassed a large majority of the fears that bound me from following the Lord unabandoned. I decided, after much apprehension, to apply. The hardest part, after submitting the application, was waiting and trusting God. I was continually in prayer trying to trust God and believe that Miracle Camp was part of His greater plan. In late March, after hearing a powerful message from Sadie Robertson on anxiety and fear, I received a phone call that I would be an assistant counselor that summer.I felt reassurance and peace knowing that He had it covered all along. He was saying to me “Look, Natalie, I had it planned out the whole time.” I doubted what His plan could be when the almighty and powerful Savior, who made the Heavens and the Earth, was plenty capable of creating a plan for my summer.

Last summer God worked in my life in many ways. Whether it involved myself or others, He powerfully worked each and every day. Personally, He helped me break down and overcome the fears that I have been battling my whole life. Only through Jesus has He given me confidence and reassurance to know that I can fully give this battle to Him. As an introvert, He has comforted me in talking to people that I would easily let walk by without saying a word. I am able to greet and brighten other people’s day because I know I have the Holy Spirit speaking through me. I do not know about you, but knowing that I have the Holy Spirit to turn to gives me the power to talk to anyone and everyone. I have built many relationships that I cannot even fathom and I’m amazed each day that the Holy Spirit is working and speaking through me.

God has changed me in many ways and I am happy for every single one of them. even though they are painful. He has taught me what it means to have patience by listening to others and waiting. He taught me how to love others even when I want to put myself first. I need to give back to others instead of fulfilling my needs before I consider theirs’. While I have learned all these lessons, I am not perfect and am still working and growing in each of them. I am still a piece of God’s handiwork and cannot wait to see how God will work in my life for His glory.

If you would like more information, or would like to apply for summer staff, head to www.miraclecamp.com/summeremployment!

Why Should You Work at Camp This Summer?

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My two summers at Miracle Camp were six months that changed my view of ministry, breaks, and relationships. I served as a counselor in Maple Ridge my first summer and as the Head Female Counselor my second summer. Both jobs brought new challenges that grew me as a Christian and as a young adult.

Spending your summer at Miracle Camp in any position is a summer of sacrifice and laying aside the rights you think you have for the Kingdom. Ministry at Camp is hard, but so worth it! Your time is spent hearing about how the camper’s hearts are changing for the Lord, their families, friends, pets, teachers, and whatever silly things pop into their heads. My ministry at Miracle Camp looked a lot like relationships and intentional conversations with the campers that God has placed in my care.

As a staff member at Miracle Camp your spiritual growth is a priority that is cultivated through your fellow staff members, worship nights, and daily scheduled devotional time. The staff that serve alongside you are interested in what you are learning about Christ, they love you unconditionally, and they see you in your best and worst moments. My previous two assistant counselors continue to support me and love me, even though we are all at different colleges. The relationships you make while on staff together are genuine, built on the foundation of Christ, and last longer than the three months at camp. I promise.

In college, summer breaks are supposed to be meant for internships. I tried that my first summer of college but after being at camp these two summers, I learned more about social work (my major) than I have in any other setting, including the classroom. I had to learn how to be professional in my interactions with adults, teens, children, and peers. I learned how to prioritize safety and love over efficiency and a schedule and I saw real life problems that were happening in these campers’ lives. From the outside, working at camp looks like a ton of fun, which it is, but the material covered in classes at school gets to come alive at camp in ways you don’t expect. I can’t explain this well, but every major matters and brings something to the table while working at camp.

Overall, being on staff at Miracle Camp has been life-changing because of the ministry that takes place, speakers that come and pour into the lives of the staff, the community that supports you, intentional conversations, and the fun games that allow you to break our of your shell and be silly. So, ask someone who has worked at camp what they have learned and I guarantee they will talk your ear off for hours about their summer!

 

If you want to apply for summer staff for 2018 head to www.miraclecamp.com/summeremployment!

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.