As a child, I loved sneaking into my brother’s room and playing with his cars and race tracks. My favorite tracks had the power boost tunnel that would accelerate the cars to zoom around the track! This is how I picture camp to serve in the spiritual lives of young people. During the year they grow and learn, but the summer affords the opportunity to break routine and to accelerate that growth and maturity. In Leadership Development, adventure, risk, and challenge, alongside Biblical truth and discipleship, are catalysts to help students grow.
Our vision for Leadership Development is to launch mature, Christlike leaders into the world to make a difference for Jesus. Beginning with a foundation of servant leadership, Nehemiah Team (Nehi) participants enter into a world of intentional community focused on service and humility. The experience is intended to help shift their worldview, to move from being served to being a servant, from consuming to contributing. Nehi’s prepare meals, maintain and beautify our grounds, serve the community neighbors, and so much more. In this challenge of physical labor, they experience a richness and joy that comes in sharing the attitude of Christ as a servant leader (Phil. 2). They do this with a group of peers who become a community to spur one another on in truth. Asher Moreton, a 2017 Nehi, speaks about the importance of community: “The people in my group were really supportive and showed me that it is better to go through life with a group of believers, rather than alone.”
Timothy Team further equips leaders for ministry by introducing more adventure and risk. Students first lead and navigate their own backpacking trip. What we hear most is how much confidence they gain. Going into the trip with fear and uncertainty, they overcome the challenges of reading a topographical map and preparing meals for their team. This confidence then translates to relationships as they begin to lead alongside one another and share the gospel with the NLR day campers. Sloane Johnston, a 2017 Timothy Team participant, shares about her experience: “The counselor role I took on during Day Camp impacted me most….I remembered my past counselors at camp and how much they impacted me…I wanted to do the best job I could possibly do to show these kids the love of Christ, and while doing that I discovered a lot about the person God was calling me to be and the standard He was holding me to.”
Soma Team, the final level of Leadership Development, seeks to help participants find their unique gifting and calling for participation in the Body of Christ. These students work within many areas of summer camp. With more responsibility and greater challenge, these students experience an even deeper dependence on the Lord as they practice their leadership skills. 2017 Soma, Gracie Schiffmacher, talks about this experience increasing her faith: “The most difficult yet valuable lesson I learned was that God uses your past sufferings to support those presently enduring similar trials, and to share how Christ carries you through the storm.”
But the goal is not just for outstanding ministry and service at New Life Ranch. As Sloane put it, “This year at camp we focused a lot on how to be a spiritual leader and how to lead others to Christ. We focused on how to take these skills home and how to use our positions of leadership to proclaim the gospel to others.” To launch these students into the world, to participate in God’s big picture, to actively contribute to God’s redemptive work in the world –this is our mighty goal!
Leadership Development and Day Camp Coordinator