|Worship, spiritual development at core of Super Summer’s activities
By Barbara Denman
August 24, 2012
LEESBURG—Before she enters the University of Missouri as a freshman this fall, Ciara DeClue determined that a return to Super Summer was a top priority.
“Last year changed my life,” said the member of First Baptist Church of Placid Lakes in Lake Placid. “God completely turned my life 180 (degrees).”
After Super Summer 2011, the 18-year-old “felt so much stronger in my own spiritual faith,” she said. She led a friend to Christ, memorized verses to defend her faith and refused to follow other “kids doing worldly things.” And most important to her spiritual growth, she said, DeClue began having daily devotions—something she has done every day for the past year.
DeClue was among the 732 campers and leaders at this year’s Super Summer, held July 23-27 at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center in Leesburg. The group represented 33 Florida Baptist churches, an increase of 200 in attendance from the past year. By the end of the week, 36 students made professions of faith.
The week again highlighted the importance of worship as evangelist Mark Roberts of First Priority led students in a walk through the Bible and to explore Biblical truths in spiritual temptation, the Seven Feasts and discipleship during the evening services. Praise band “After Edmund” prepared the teens for inner soul searching and worship.
A big draw this year was a Wednesday night concert by the Christian rock band Stellar Kart, who sang many of their popular hits, including “Everything is Different Now,” “Me and Jesus,” “We Shine” and “Something Holy.”
Worship was a one of the best parts of the week for many of the youth and their leaders, including DeClue as it “touched my heart to have all of these Christians as one for Jesus.”
One memorable evening came after a storm knocked out the camp’s electricity and forced the praise band to continue worship, singing “Might to Save,” accompanied only by a piano.
Throughout the week, students participated in Bible study and discipleship activities designed to flesh out the camp’s theme “Submerged” by examining God’s Word, campus ministry, spiritual growth, lordship and worship, said camp director Jeff Hessinger.
“It’s about students building relationships and learning about faith, themselves and others,” said Hessinger, team strategist for the Florida Baptist Convention’s personal evangelism team. “All of the Bible study and challenges of scripture lead to that discovery.”
Hessinger contends that all learning does not take place in the classroom, which is why the camp offers numerous recreational activities, including high and low ropes course, a climbing wall, paintball and zip line.
Teen John Holk from First Baptist Church in Tampa was about to learn a lesson in trust as he began inching up a 40-foot climbing wall located in the Lake Yale woods. It was his first venture on the wall and he was excited, as well as a little bit nervous, he said.
As the ninth grader stretched his arms high above his head, seeking pegs to stabilize his footing, Steve Storms, a leader from Brandon’s First Baptist Church, shouted words of encouragement and secured the teen’s protective tether and harness.
With this activity “we are teaching the youth to trust the person who holds you and keeps you from falling,” said Storms, who served as a group leader throughout the week. “That is applicable to trusting God to protect you and keep you safe.”
As Don Spivey watched his students navigate an obstacle course and zip line, the executive pastor of the Church at South Lake in Clermont agreed with Storms, saying while the courses looked fun, much more was taking place as students were learning how to “overcome fears and obstacles, as well as issues of trust and challenges.“
For the past three summers, Spivey has taken his youth to Super Summer, bringing 24 teens and four adults this year. While they have attended other camps in the past, Spivey said he returns to Super Summer because “it’s a great experience for my kids. And the price is good.”
One of the larger church groups at this year’s Super Summer was Brandon First, where Storms attends. For their first time trip to Super Summer, youth pastor Billy Young brought 122 persons to the camp, including 90 students and 22 adults.
While the church has organized their own camps in the past, Young said he appreciated the format of Super Summer which allowed him to serve on a leadership team of youth pastors across the state. Through this, he was able to help plan the camp, having input into the curriculum, Bible studies and activities. “This is not a cookie cutter camp. We have had a voice.”
He credited the week with helping grow the students in their walk with Christ, unifying his youth group and serving as a springboard for the students next year in school.
Young also liked that while his entire youth group had “church huddle” time together to develop that unity, high school and middle school youth were separated in Bible studies and small groups, developing discipleship in context of their own needs. “That is a great element,” he said.
Super Summer is planned and staffed by Florida youth pastors and leaders. As part of the format, youth are divided into age appropriate teams with assigned colors that compete for team spirit awards and games. Youth dress in their team colors, carry flags and banners throughout the camp ground and identify team mascots, creating a lively atmosphere throughout the Lake Yale grounds.
Youth pastors and leaders, tapped as team leaders, provide creativity in elaborately decorating the team’s room to set the tone and theme.
All of these aspects increase enthusiasm among the youth and ownership in the camp for the leaders, who invest money and time into creating the unique camp environment, Hessinger said. “Recreation can get a little wet and zany during ‘wild and crazy’ as teams compete against each other.”
Shelby Todd, 18, painted a zebra fish on her Orange Team’s banner to win coveted spirit points. The teen, a member of Florida Gardens Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, has attended Super Summer for the past three years.
Now a senior member in the youth group, Todd explained that this year she is building relationships and connecting with the younger girls. “I want to invest time in and encourage them in the Lord. That’s what I have received at Super Summer—people pouring into my life and I want to continue that process.”
Registration for Super Summer 2013 opens Sept.1. Click here for additional information or call 800-226-8584, ext. 3096.