Youth leaders cherish the opportunity to learn, serve and grow with their students at That Thing*Epworth Forest - *Danita Brick’s attachment to Impact 2818’s high school camp, That Thing, is personal. For five years, the Director of Student Ministries at Shiloh United Methodist Church has been bringing her students to camp each year, knowing how immensely their faith will grow after one week at Epworth Forest. She, too, is fed by the Word shared at camp through the teaching of keynote speakers and the Christ-centered activities.
Most importantly, she is encouraged by That Thing’s focus on faith, growth and discipleship.
“That Thing gives campers practical ways to move forward in their journey with Christ,” Danita said. “Giving your life to Christ isn’t the end, it’s the beginning. That Thing helps them understand that and says, ‘Now here are some ways to grow and here are some ways He might be calling you.’”
Danita, who attends That Thing with her students, knows the impact it has on her students’ spiritual growth. She “aims high” in youth ministry, looking for ways to push her students forward in their spiritual walk, and in turn sees God working in her life, too.“By aiming high, I get speakers that nail me right where I am. I have had some really big life changes myself from camp,” Danita said. “I get to share the experience with my students and come back and we can talk about it, and it fuels a lot of conversations. Personally, spiritually, God works on me every year when I’m there.”
She cherishes the way That Thing is structured, as it allows the youth at Shiloh to attend as a community. The time allows campers to grow closer as they encourage, support and challenge one another throughout the week. Danita believes the type of bonding that comes with a camp experience could never happen in a different setting.
“Camp builds community with them in a way that I can’t really do very easily during the year,” Danita said. “I can do mixers, I can do projects, but when they live together for a week, that’s different.”
Because youth leaders also attend camp, they are able to share in their students’ experiences, a fact Danita has found crucial to the growth of her youth group. As the campers are pushed in their faith, their youth leaders are present to encourage them and answer questions.
“Students experience more spiritual growth at camp in those few days than they are likely to experience in any single event that I plan or any lesson I teach,” Danita said. “If they’re experiencing that spiritual growth and I’m not there with them, I don’t understand the impact of what that was on their lives.”The shared experience has proven extremely beneficial for Shiloh UMC youth when camp is over and the group returns home. Leaders are able to connect with their students in a way that otherwise would be impossible, and the students’ growth in Christ is not stalled by a gap of understanding.
As Shiloh UMC’s youth group continues to grow and change in future years, Danita is sure camp will always be an important part of their ministry, and is hopeful of the impact it will have on future campers.
“I hope camp gives my students a more real understanding of God’s love for them, a better understanding of God’s plan for them, and a more fully developed passion for following after God,” Danita said.