A big part of what makes camp so awesome is making new friends and spending time doing awesome things with your cabinmates. Cabins will do games together, go to chapel and do devotions together, and do so many other fun activities together. Each cabin will consist of about 10 campers and will be led by a counselor and assistant counselor who are college students that love challenging and hanging out with the kids who come for the summer. It’s amazing to see campers come away from the weekend with long lasting, genuine friendships with people from all over the midwest.
One of the things we care about most is the spiritual growth of the guests and campers who are here and preparing them to continue to further their relationship with Jesus Christ as they leave camp. We love offering chapel sessions twice a day for campers that come to where they can worship with a band and hundreds of other kids their age as well as listen to a speaker challenge them in their faith. After each evening chapel session, the campers will go with their cabin and counselor to do cabin devotions. The counselors will lead these devotions and campers will be able to discuss what they learned in the chapel session and how they can apply it to their life.
Each counselor will also have an hour one on one conversation with each camper. These discussions are put into place so that each counselor can help each camper grow closer to God personally. Counselors are trained to challenge students to read and apply God’s word and to spend time in prayer. Campers are given time for personal devotions after every morning chapel session. We want to train campers not just to hear God’s word, but also to read and study it for themselves.
We absolutely love being able to offer guests and campers things that they can do here at camp that they are unable to do at home. One of our favorite parts of camp is the awesome activities we have. We have everything from the zipline to the Blob that campers never seem to get enough of and are excited to do every time they come back. Here is a small list of some of our and our campers favorite things to do while they are at camp:
Zipline – A 480 ft. ride that you take after leaving our 40 ft. climbing tower. The Blob – A huge inflatable water launcher that sends kids soaring into the air. Gaga Ball – Be the last one in the ring while getting others out by hitting them in the legs with a ball. Archery – Try to get a bullseye in one of the many targets at our archery range. Initiatives – Bond your group together with our 10+ team building initiatives. Paintball – Can you hit all your friends before getting hit yourself? Small Boats – Kayak or canoe on our beautiful Bankson Lake! Tubing – See if you can hold onto the tube while being driven around the lake. Disc Golf – Bet you can’t get a hole in one on our 18 hole course! Large Group Games – A staple of summer camp including Gold Rush and Hunger Games.
…and much more!
Summer Camp will be here in less than 2 months! We are already planning and preparing for this summer and spots are starting to fill up fast! Here are the dates and ages for our Summer Camps for this year!
June 11-17: Middle School 1 June 18-24: Junior High 1 June 25 – July 1: Senior High 1 July 5-8: Grade School 1 July 9-15: Junior High 2 July 16-22: Senior High 2 July 23-29: Northwoods July 30 – August 5: Grade School 2 July 30 – August 2: Grade School 3 August 6-12: Middle School 2
Camp Aiding is the best of both worlds. As a Camp Aide, you have the incredible opportunity to be partnered with a counselor and assistant counselor to gain an inside look at what goes into being a part of Miracle Camp’s summer staff team. Camp Aiding has greatly impacted my walk with Jesus Christ and I am so thankful for the opportunities and lessons I have learned through being a Camp Aide.
Camp Aide’s have a truly unique position for the two weeks they are serving at Miracle Camp. Each is assigned a specific cabin with campers who will learn together, have fun together, and experience Christ in many ways, especially through two chapel sessions every day and cabin devotions. When Camp Aides are not with their assigned cabin, they are out doing things like personal devotions, group devotions, and camp maintenance (which let me tell you, is much more fun than it sounds). It’s awesome to form deep, Christ-centered relationships with other Camp Aides who share the same hope and purpose; to proclaim the Gospel. Camp Aides are constantly being pushed into a deeper understanding of Jesus Christ.
Trying to narrow down my favorite part of Camp Aiding is extremely difficult because almost everything could be my favorite. One thing I really loved about Camp Aiding, though, is realizing different parts of who I am that I didn’t know beforehand by being encouraged and pushed to step outside my comfort zone. Being pushed out of your comfort zone is difficult, but I believe it is important part in understanding what Jesus wants to teach you. Camp Aides also get the experience of late night staff worship, which is incredible because it allows you to take the focus off yourself and respond to all that Christ is. All of these opportunities not only result in amazing relationships made with people at camp but also with an increased love for your own personal relationship with Christ. Camp Aiding will challenge you mentally, physically, and most importantly spiritually. It will impact you in a way that makes you want to tell someone because you can not keep the joy of Christ inside.
The greatest spiritual impact on me, through Camp Aiding, has been through personal devotions. Spending time in one part of scripture really quiets your mind and allows the Word of God to impact you. Getting to discuss what Christ is doing in the lives of other Camp Aides inspires me to grow as well. These discussions strengthen the relationships between other Camp Aides and shows how God speaks differently to people. Most importantly, as I touched on above, I am so thankful for how being a Camp Aide has impacted me in my own life by pushing me out of my comfort zone. I’ve been able to see that there is a bigger picture, that our God is constantly active, and that there is nowhere better to be than to be experiencing Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Being surrounded by Christ followers, and Jesus, for two weeks will leave you wanting more, and will set a fire inside your soul to experience and tell others about what Christ is doing in your life. Camp Aiding has impacted my life for the long run and I am so thankful for all the opportunities, lessons, relationships, and applications being a Camp Aide has taught me over the years. If you are going to do one thing this summer, consider applying to Camp Aide at Miracle Camp. It will not disappoint.
Watch this video to see a glimpse of what Camp Aiding is like!
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!
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!