Headlines from First Thoughts

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Kids Camp from a Youth Group to Grandparents

Group Shot

June 20-23, I preached at First Baptist’s version of Camp-Ba-Yo-Ca. So many of our folks grew up attending camp on Happy Hollow Road. This year, we connected generations of grandparents, parents, youth, and students to provide training, renewal, and formation of 3-5th graders.

Stephen Carlone and his critter at the "Critter Crawl"

Joel Smith Loaded down

Our 2010 strategic plan challenged us to teach students to grow in their faith by connecting the generations. In a year of economic austerity, we needed creativity and partnership. This story began last summer. Our youth began dreaming about a mission project for this summer and approached Michael about leading a camp for our kids. There is no better way to grow than to take the leap of teaching, with a great safety net of course.

Second, we partnered with Smoke Rise Baptist Church in Stone Mountain, Georgia, where FBC alumna and Money Scholarship recipient served on the children's staff.

Third, not only did we need parents; but we also received the gift of grandparents. Grandmother Jane Hall sent her grandson Joel Smith. Grandparents Peter and Elaine Smith invited grandson Stephen Carlone.

The camp turned into more than your average get-a-way. Students shined like never before. I think Parker invited the entire neighborhood. Susan Tatum, Michael McEntyre, and Kara and the Smoke Rise staff pulled off an incredible experience. This would not have been possible without your generous gifts and the creativity of our staff and young people. And without camp, I would not have met Joel or Stephen.

Joel Smith lives in Knoxville, but his grandmother Jane Hall wanted to make sure he had a chance to experience Christ the only way camp can do. She worked to arrange schedules with his parents to attend.

Stephen Carlone does not live in Knoxville. His grandparents, Peter and Elaine Smith, do. Peter and Elaine attend the deaf congregation. Stephen often visits with his grandparents on weekends and worships with them on Sunday mornings. Stephen can hear perfectly, but he listens to Greg Johannsen preach when Stephen is in town. When the Smith’s read about the camp, they registered Stephen. And when Stephen came to camp, I met one of the most dynamic kids in the bunch. He prayed one night in worship and demonstrated the power of a family committed to Christ.

These are just two examples of the way this camp touched my life and continues to touch the lives of those we serve in East Tennessee across the generations.

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