Twenty college students. Eighteen Christian camps. One summer.
For Corban College’s five Camp Teams, the whirlwind summer of 2006 has just begun. These four-member teams – two men and two women on each – will spend two months of their summer working at Christian summer camps scattered throughout the Northwest. In rented vehicles, they’ll crisscross Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California to counsel at elementary, middle and high school camps.
One Camp Team, led by senior Lindsey Coy, traveled by plane to reach their remote ministry destination. She and teammates Tyler Grove, Shannon Rensi and David Collett are now working at Tanalian Bible Camp in Port Alsworth, Alaska. Later this month, they’ll fly south to collect their van and continue working at summer camps in California.
“I really am excited to go to Alaska,” Coy said before leaving. “I need prayer for being a leader, for being able to lead this team. I’m the oldest, and this is everyone else’s first time.”
To join a Camp Team, students go through the college’s screening process. Each year, applications for summer are due the previous fall. Heidi Stowman, Director of Admissions, has assumed responsibility for the teams following the unexpected death last summer of longtime Camp Team liaison Doug West.
Like West, Stowman will stay in touch on a weekly basis with each of the five team leaders. She was a Camp Team member as a student and remembers the challenges and rewards that accompany a summer of camp work.
“You’re so stretched and exhausted, but it’s a good exhaustion,” Stowman said. “You feel spent, but it’s a good feeling.”
This year, Corban received requests from 60 summer camps asking for college students to come help run their programs. Eighteen were packed into the final itineraries of the 20 Camp Team members. At each camp, they counsel, lead worship, run games, plan events and do much more.
“Everyone wants college students to come to their camps,” Stowman said. “They have a level of maturity and are able to take leadership roles.”
For their Camp Team work, Corban students receive a modest scholarship to defray the following year’s academic expenses. That’s a small reward for late nights, bug bites and travel troubles, but the students say they aren’t in it for the money. They’re spending their summer this way because they want to share the gospel and care for kids, Coy said.
“One night last year, I decided to take my campers out under the stars. It was late at night, and we just kind of talked and read stories,” she recalled. “One of the girls wrote me and said that was the most memorable thing she did all summer. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.”