Hi, my name is Samantha, and I am one of those “All life camper/counselors.” To even begin to put into words the infinite ways my life was shaped by Lakeside Christian Camp feels impossible. I started going to camp when I was eight years old simply because it was fun. As I grew older I became an overnight camper and the conversations about God began to feel deeper and more real. In my cabin my counselors talked with us about being saved and what it meant to have a relationship with God, but I had never heard that before and just did not understand what it meant. Through my years as a camper Lakeside was a place for me to explore these questions, learn about God, and discover what it meant to be loved and forgiven. I learned the gravity of the fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross for me and my sins so that I could have eternal life. I learned that through all the obstacles I face outside of camp; at home, at school, and with family I was never alone and I was loved. That message saved me in more ways than one and I feel beyond blessed to have had the privilege to learn it at Lakeside. I am grateful for the counselors who shared it with me and were patient with me as they answered my many questions throughout the years. I am grateful for the leadership staff who made Lakeside a safe place for me to learn this message. I am really grateful for the program team who made camp fun because at first that’s what kept me coming back. I would have never gone to a worship night or a youth group but I did go Lakeside because it was fun, it was safe, and I felt loved and it was this foundation that kept me coming back to camp and allowed me to hear the Gospel.
Then I turned sixteen and aged out of being a camper so I applied to the leadership intern program. Through that program I was able to continue developing my spiritual gifts and faith with the help from the intern coordinators who poured into me. As an intern I learned how to share the gospel with campers in the same way it had been shared with me. That summer at Lakeside was pivotal for me in so many ways as I took my “summer camp faith” into the real world and focused on Christian living and developing spiritual habits that would nurture my relationship with God. As an intern I also made friendships that have lasted years and will continue to endure. I didn’t want to stop going to Lakeside after being an intern so I became a day camp counselor and then overnight counselor so that I would be able to share the gospel with campers.
Last summer I got to be the summer program director and had the privilege of serving the Kingdom in a capacity I never imagined. I continued to grow throughout that summer and relied on my relationship with God in more aspects than one to do my job well. I want to be an elementary school teacher, so Lakeside gave me great interactions with children but it did so much more. Lakeside taught me how to love others through Christ and my counselors. John, Pam and Missy were great examples of that to me. Because of Lakeside, I have developed my gifts for working with children through Christ, and that love is something I can share with each and every child who walks through my classroom door one day. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the grace of Jesus that I learned about at Lakeside. One thing I’ve heard from a lot of ministries is “if just one person knows Jesus then everything we have done is worth it” well I am that one person that came to know Christ through Lakeside and I know for a fact that I am not the only one. The impact this camp had on me is eternal and allowed me to discover my identity in Christ. What makes summer camp so unique is that it brings children in by the masses to hear the Word of God. Lakeside’s summer theme is hidden treasures which describe camp perfectly. When children come to camp they have no idea the hidden treasures, the most valuable treasures, that await them. “ I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” Isaiah 45:3. I know that God is not confined to Lakeside Christian Camp, but His presence was sure felt there and He is at the core of who makes me who I am today.