Youth launch personal relationships with Jesus at That Thing
**Epworth Forest - **It was at Epworth Forest that 16-year-old Molly first felt Christ’s presence moving in her life. Having grown up going to church with her family, learning about God’s love in Sunday School and hanging out with other students in the church youth group, Molly still lacked a personal relationship with Jesus. That vital connection was made at camp and Molly’s relationship with Christ is now the source of joy, hope and contentment in her life.“I honestly felt like camp helped me begin my growth in Christ,” Molly said. “I just knew His presence was there and I felt that movement in me. I’ve been constantly, personally, person-to-person, talking with God since camp.”
Molly and around 15 others attended Impact 2818′s high school camp “That Thing” last summer with their high school youth group from Gethsemane United Methodist Church (GUMC) in Muncie, IN. GUMC has been sending their children and youth to camp for over 25 years, and each fall, campers come back to church with stories of friendship and life change.
Every year That Thing campers encounter Christ at camp as they learn about His love, grow in their knowledge of Him and worship together. For the GUMC youth group, camp is an opportunity to foster relationships with one another and strengthen their community.“It helps us get to know each other. When you spend a week in a cabin with a group of people, you’re going to bond with them,” 18-year-old Colton Lyon of GUMC said. “I think that’s a very important thing. Every year the youth group grows and becomes stronger because of camp.”
GUMC youth leaders Melissa and Travis Stayton agree that camp provides an opportunity for campers to connect with one another on a spiritual level.
“Camp is a place where the youth can be open and honest, thus revealing what is heavy on their hearts. It allows the youth to connect with one another and understand that other youth are struggling, too,” Melissa said.
In addition, camp fosters meaningful relationship between youth leaders and their students, allowing Melissa and Travis to better appreciate and understand their youth.
The Staytons have seen many of their students transformed by camp experiences, immersing as leaders, counselors and advocates for Christ in their community. For them, camp is a vital part of their youth ministry that they will always continue. Simply put by Melissa, GUMC youth return to camp every year because, “Camp is Heaven on earth.”To see more photos from camp, click [here](http://impact2818.smugmug.com/Events/Epworth-Forest/2013-Best-of-Photos-Epworth/29883447_sK7mwg).