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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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 actuallyleading. 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!
We are now accepting applications to work at Miracle Camp and Retreat Center this summer! We hire 50 college students each summer to work as a team to help facilitate life change by helping campers grow closer to God. Here’s some of the skills we will be looking for…