Summer camp is an exciting time for many young people. As summer draws near, campers think about campfires, swimming, games, friends, fun, delicious food, and many other activities. Those who participate in LifeWay Students and LifeWay Kids summer camps also look forward to challenging Bible studies, learning to share the Gospel, and growing in their own spiritual walk.
Well before the dates of Centrikid, Student Life, World Changers, and FUGE camps, hundreds of college students and professional adults gather at Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center for X WKND. This weekend conference is held annually to help leaders learn how to lead a successful camp experience for the more than 135,000 campers who participate each summer.
“The primary purpose of this training is for LifeWay leadership to be able to gather our staffs all in one location to share our heart with them before they go out to represent Christ and LifeWay throughout the summer. We also want to pour into them, challenge them, and prepare them for their summer roles,” said Haley Hughes, FUGE Camps Coordinator at LifeWay Christian Resources.
X WKND, the name of the conference, needs explanation, but it’s a perfect symbol for what happens during the weekend training. The lower part of the “X” is a visual reminder that all the camp workers come from various backgrounds and have unique personalities, talents, and gifts. They gather together, represented by the cross part of the “X,” for training, spiritual renewal, and preparation to minister to campers. From that time together, they are sent out to minister, represented by the top part of the “X,” in dozens of locations throughout the country and even in Taiwan and Puerto Rico during the 2018 camp season.
Most of the paid summer staff positions are filled by college students, many of whom are former campers themselves. Some professional adults, particularly teachers, join the summer staffers to serve after their college years.
“We love being at Shocco because this is one of the places that several of our brands will actually do camp and serve churches throughout the summer,” said Haley Hughes. “It is neat to be able to train staff in a place that will actually hold a portion of our summer ministry. We also love Shocco because it is beautiful, and the staff works hard to meet our needs and to give us everything we need to have a successful and smooth time of training.”
Summer campers aren’t the only ones to enjoy camp recreation time! One night during the training in 2018 included a carnival complete with rides, game trailers, cotton candy, popcorn, snow cones, and prizes, along with a DJ who hosted a dance party. Doughnuts and milk topped off the night. These activities were not only fun for the staff being trained but demonstrated great ideas about activities they could include in their summer camp activities.
For more information on LifeWay summer camps, contact Haley Hughes at: haley.hughes@LifeWay.com.
Sammie Jo Barstow is a freelance writer who lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.