This time of year when many young people attend 4-H or sports camps, some are choosing an alternative that stresses serving the community while also offering fun activities.
It’s all part of a Youth Missions Week camp of the Surry Baptist Association, which is open to youths of all religious persuasions who’ve completed the sixth grade and others up to grade 12. They will be housed at Salem Baptist Church at Dobson from July 26-31 for a chaperoned camp that is designed provide young people the opportunity to get hands-on ministry experience in their own neighborhoods.
“We’re just trying to serve our community and help youths realize they have a mission field right here in our backyard,” explained Lynn Wilkes, who is on the Surry Baptist Association Youth Council that holds the camp.
“A lot of people think you have to go overseas,” Wilkes said of mission service to meet some need. “And we know it’s right here in our community.”
Participants of the upcoming camp will be assisting at local food pantries and nursing homes, along with other activities involving backyard Bible clubs, providing free crafts at Riverside Park in Mount Airy and more.
This is the 12th year of the local Youth Missions Week camp. “We have had up to 100 campers before,” said Wilkes, an American Red Cross employee in Winston-Salem, who stressed that participants are not required to be part of the local Baptist organization or attend a church of that affiliation to participate.
“All of the Surry Baptist Association churches are invited to participate, but we are opening it up to anyone,” she said.
There will be an emphasis on ministry, discipleship, fellowship and worship, and evening debriefing sessions after each day’s service projects.
Although the youths are involved in mission activities during the daytime, the evenings are set aside for entertainment such as swimming, visiting a trampoline park in Winston-Salem, a dodge ball tournament and a scavenger hunt.
Participants are asked to bring items such as air mattresses or sleeping bags for living quarters inside the church. Portable showers will be placed outside, with a cook to provide meals and various churches supplying breakfast foods and bag lunches for youths to take to the work sites.
“Connect Four” is the theme for this year’s camp, which is based on the Bible verse “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” and emphasizes serving others.
In addition to its other points of emphasis, the Youth Missions Week camp will provide a haven of sorts from the usual electronic distractions.
Camp rules do not allow the presence of CD and MP3 players or other music-playback devices and radios.
Cell phones will be permitted, but students are asked not to use them during certain times, such as worship services, daily devotions and while they are at work sites.
A dress code also will be in place.
The cost of the camp is $60 per student.
Registration will begin at 6 p.m. on July 26. The camp will conclude on the night of July 31.
Information on advance registration and accessing sign-up forms and complete camp rules can be obtained from Wilkes at 336-816-6280 or Bill MacCollum, another member of the Surry Baptist Association Youth Council, 336-341-5756.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.