As students head back to school, Bart Styes, the Director of Summer Camping Programs at Camp Sumatanga, took time to celebrate the disciple-making ministry that happened with students at Camp Sumatanga during the summer of 2006.
Here is his report.
We just wrapped up a very important summer in the life of our camping ministry. This marked the first summer that Camp Sumatanga was responsible for managing the elementary, junior high and senior high camping programs. Previously, these were managed through the Offices of Children's Ministries and Youth Ministries of the North Alabama Conference. They are now managed on site by Sumatanga, along with our Day Camp, Family Camp and "Mom & Me" camp sessions.
In this first summer, participation grew in both our elementary and junior high camping programs. While we had to cancel two new camping options (a weekend event for senior highs and an all ages trip to Minnesota's Boundary Waters), we also added a fifth Mom & Me session due to overwhelming demand. In all, over 1,500 campers joined us in 2006 for an exciting and meaningful summer. This would not have happened without the diligent and often unheralded work of local church administrators and children and youth volunteers. They, along with local church pastors and children and youth ministers, did an incredible job in making sure these young people got to camp.
As we look to 2007, we have a lot of work to do to make sure that our camping program is ministry-focused and camper-focused. This involves hard work in areas such as the recruitment and selection of our staff and volunteers, training of our leaders, promotion of this opportunity to our churches and parents, worship and curriculum design, and the gathering of supplies and equipment. Through all of this, I will do my part to make sure we are good stewards of the physical and financial resources which have been entrusted to the paid and volunteer leaders of Camp Sumatanga.
Our 2006 summer campers are members of 185 United Methodist churches in North Alabama with a couple hundred of their friends from other denominations.
Remember that each number reflects a life that has been touched. Participation from around 1,500 children and youth and from 185 United Methodists churches in North Alabama is something to celebrate in 2006. But there are many more children and youth across North Alabama with whom to share the unique blessings of a camping ministry and, to a greater extent, the unique blessings of a connectional church. Please support our efforts at Camp Sumatanga by keeping us in your prayers and by encouraging pastors, church staff, parents, lay leaders, and young people to make camping ministry an integral part of their lives and the lives of their church.
Director of Summer Camping Programs