Summer Camp Evangelism
CLIFTON, TEX. – Summer camp at Lake Whitney Ranch (LWR) in Clifton, Tex., was truly amazing. Over 350 campers, ranging from ages seven to 35, enjoyed many activities during the five different summer camp weeks.
Thanks to Hector Perez, Lake Whitney Ranch director, volunteers and donors, the archery range and horse program received a new look, and a beautiful nature center was created.
Summer camp is a place where kids can come and experience things that they’ve never experienced before.
Being out in nature, removing the distractions of mobile phones or social media, helps people engage differently. They are focused on their activity. They are more connected with the people around them. Some are building life-long friendships.
For many, this is their first time hearing about God and His love. We are blessed, as a staff, to be able to show campers God’s love.
The Lord blessed us with amazing pastors sharing how we are “Marked by the Holy Spirit,” the theme for the week. Focusing on Ephesians 1:13, which says, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,” we were excited when 11 campers requested baptism.
Following COVID-19 protocols, the weeks were shortened, Sunday through Friday. We didn’t get to spend Sabbath together, but each morning and evening we had devotions together building upon the theme.
Summer camp is such a loving Christian home environment for the campers. “LWR has been a blessing for our three children,” shared Janet Frias, parent. “Our oldest would never go to another summer camp. She is now a senior at Burton Adventist Academy in Arlington, Tex. She can’t wait until next summer when she can become a staff member at LWR. It’s the best place my kids can spend a summer surrounded by a loving staff that has the love of God to spread.”
“I was able to not only grow as a person and leader, but see God work in tangible ways. It is an experience I will always look back on fondly,” Raquel Sorto-Robles shared. She was the activities director this summer.
We have campers who turn into staff. Later, after entering the workforce, they still come back as volunteers. “My experience with summer camp has shown me how camp is just like a miniature, magnified model of ‘The Great Controversy.’ As the counselors encourage and pray with one another, accept campers into their cabins and share Jesus with the children, so we also should encourage and pray with like minded believers, accept nonbelievers into our circle of influence and show Jesus to His children by our living example,” shared Thomas Gordon, former staff who returned as a volunteer nurse.
“Summer camp is consistently the place where Jesus meets me. At camp, I got rebaptized. I accepted God’s calling on my life to be a pastor and I had the poetic joy of pastoring during tween week! At camp, I met Jesus, true ministry and my best friend. I know Jesus is real today because He was real to me there,” said Jonny Wilczynski, a former camper, staff and now Texas Conference pastor.
Coming together as summer camp staff you become family. We are grateful to the Texas Conference administration for seeing the benefit of having Summer Camp 2021, and to Hector Perez and Pila Telefoni for leading so diligently in their respective areas, as well as to Michael Gibson for really stepping up to affirm our staff. We were blessed that the Lord kept us safe throughout the summer.
Lake Whitney Ranch Summer Camp is a light in the heart of Texas, a home away from home for some of us and true summertime evangelism.
By Deborah Gendke
Texas ACS Associate Director and former
Summer Camp Coordinator