Fighting homesickness

First-time camper overcomes her fears with Christ’s help

**Pine Creek Camp - **Nine-year-old Aniston was nervous for camp. Her first time away from home and family, Aniston wasn’t sure what it would be like to spend an entire week at Pine Creek. She was homesick and battled her fears for the first few days as her counselors assured her she would not regret staying at camp.

[![IMG_9429](,w_300/v1423286636/IMG_9429_p2dbpa.jpg)]( (center) bonded with her counselor, Sandy Smitley, and junior counselor. Both leaders helped her overcome her homesickness.
“When I first came here I was upset because I was really homesick. My counselors helped me start having fun, and they helped me to start participating in the activities,” Aniston said.

Aniston’s counselor, Sandy Smitley of McGrawsville United Methodist Church, saw God working in Aniston as she opened up and became more involved with her cabin mates.

“From the time she got here and didn’t want to be here, to now. Now she understands she can have fun with this,” Sandy said. “God is definitely working in her. He definitely helped her through that.”

In addition to her courage, Sandy noticed a growing curiosity in Aniston, who attends church at Faith United Methodist Church when visiting her grandparents. As she went about her week at camp, Aniston became more and more interested in learning who the Lord is. She loved hearing stories about the gospel, her favorite being the story of Paul’s missions and his time in captivity, where he continued to serve the Lord even during hardship.

“I learned that God is our best friend, and so is Jesus,” Aniston said. “He helped me start having fun and forget about being homesick.”

Sandy knows the Lord kept Aniston at camp for a reason and that He used the counselors and Camp Director Pastor Kenny Cole to support Aniston through her anxiety.

[![IMG_0715](,w_300/v1423286636/IMG_0715_wouz1e.jpg)]( (right) cheers and chants with new friends at camp.
“We tried to encourage her and say, ‘We don’t want to send you home, we want you to stay.’ She stepped up to the plate and was brave,” Sandy said. “The Lord is definitely working in her to understand what He’s about and what He can do for her.”

The knowledge that God’s love was shared with Aniston and her fellow campers is enough for Sandy to make the week of camp well worth it.

“It’s a reminder for me how important it is that this seed is planted in these kids. We come to the end of the week, and God has worked in the kids. And it’s made a difference,” Sandy said. “We’re here to plant the seed, and hopefully some day it will burst forth and they’ll have that promise.”