Tri-District Camp Impacts Young Lives

8/11/2016

Youth from north, central and southwest Houston and neighboring towns gathered at Lakeview Conference center in July to make new friends and encounter God in the piney woods of East Texas.
 
High school student Gage Pottorff is a ‘regular’ when it comes to summer camp. A member of First UMC in Conroe, Gage recently returned from his fourth year as a Lakeview camper – and says it was the best yet. “Lakeview is usually a one-week camp that reinforces the ties between you and God, because there's a lot of stuff in this world that can distract us from our relationship and faith in the One who made us,” he shares. “I always look forward to Lakeview because we get to disconnect from social media and the things that are going on outside of camp for a week. As youth, otherwise often consumed by our phones, we get to fully embrace this time to worship and learn about God.”
 
Each day is packed full of fun and life-impacting fellowship. He says campers begin their day by waking up around 7:30 a.m. and going to morning devotional, then on to breakfast, big group, small group, and other morning activities. Then students enjoy lunch, cabin time, big group/mail time, small group, workshops, and afternoon activities before dinner, night activities, clean up, then night worship. Adds Gage, “The counselors and leaders of camp keep us busy all day, all week. Everyone is always interactive and it's truly amazing to see how people with different attitudes/races/ethnicities can come together over the teachings of God.” Each student finds a variety of activities available for their ‘down’ time. “My personal favorite thing to do at Lakeview,” he says, “is going fishing. The lake is gorgeous and is emotionally moving. Worship at night is done in Peace Chapel and is great.  From the band to the speaker, they break things down to a teenager viewpoint so it's easy to understand. Next year will be my last year to go to Lakeview as a senior. And I'm already looking forward to my experience and sharing in the experiences of others.”
 
While Gage is an old hand at this camping stuff, camper Morgan Cebrun, on the other hand attended the Tri-District elementary camp for the first time this July. A member of St. Mark’s (Patterson) UMC in Houston, Morgan enjoyed learning about God, made lots of new friends, and particularly enjoyed kayaking and swimming. Rochelle Cebrun admits her daughter even cried because she didn’t want to leave camp. Adds Rochelle, “I can tell that she connected spiritually during camp. She’s singing the songs that they learned, and she hasn’t stop talking about going back next year -- and which of her friends that she would like to bring.”
 
Twelve-year-old Ryan Edwards, Mission Bend UMC, says, “I learned that walking by faith means to do as God commands you because whatever he commands is for a good reason and we should not question those commands.” Adds Ryan, “What I liked most about camp was going swimming everyday and spending time with my cabin mates.”
 
 
The significance of summer camp extends beyond the campers to include the helpers and counselors such as 18-year-old Jaylon K. Tasby of Trinity East UMC.
 
“This year at camp, I learned plenty about not only myself but also about my relationship with God,” shares Jaylon. “Since this was my first year as a counselor at camp I was extremely excited and anxious about the opportunity. The theme for this year was walking by faith and not by sight, and I feel as though I truly learned how to begin walking by faith and not trusting in my own human thoughts. I also learned that by walking by faith myself, I was setting an example for the boys that I had the pleasure of leading that week. By watching me, they saw how to start walking by faith on their own. “
 
He particularly enjoyed “watching the guys in my cabin grow closer and learn more about God as each day went on.” Adds Jaylon, “I saw them begin to ask more questions, and be less afraid to speak in front of large crowds, and even volunteer to read the Bible in our study time. It really made me feel good to know that I had a part in making their relationship with God stronger.” 
 
Big Picture Impact
Lakeview’s Monroe Walker reports that the Texas Annual Conference sent approximately 585 campers and 115 counselors to Tri-District camp this year.
This was the last year of the District-led camps with students from 53 churches in the Central North, Central South, Southwest Districts.
 
Surveys indicate hundreds of lives are being impacted through this annual tradition:

  • 149 campers committed their life to Jesus Christ.
  • 338 campers renewed their commitment to Jesus Christ.
  • 61 campers want to be baptized.
  • 137 campers felt God might be calling them to some sort of professional
  • ministry.
  • 18 students joined (or re-joined) TAP (the Andrews Program)
 
According to Lakeview’s Monroe Walker, TAP stands for "The Andrews Program" named for the Andrews family who first donated the funds to get it established. “Through TAP, we meet with high school students at camp who may be exploring or contemplating or discerning a calling to the ministry, either ordained or professional,” shares Monroe. “We keep in touch with the students throughout the year, notify the student's pastor, and send a report to the DS of the District where they affiliate. The idea is to help cultivate the student as they discern their call, help provide resources for them, and to make sure they don't fall through the cracks as they journey forward.”