Camp! This little word has the potential to spark a range of emotions in the hearts of different individuals. To some, camp was the mountaintop experience where they felt the love of Jesus envelop them through interactions with staff and other campers. To others, camp holds a special place in their heart as they fondly remember their decision to walk with the Lord. And maybe to some, camp was overwhelming and exhausting, but an absolute blast. Whatever your camp memories may be, Bellevue offers a unique relational twist to this mountaintop experience. Unlike typical camps, Bellevue’s summer camps are just the beginning of the investment that will be poured into the participants for the following months.
Cory, Bellevue’s Middle School Pastor, was especially excited heading into Camp Ocoee (middle school camp) this year. He empowered his team of volunteers and staff to prioritize “being a shepherd to our students.” The Lord was faithful to the team’s commitment and Cory is ecstatic about the impact this left on the students. He said, “The reason we do camp is to create an environment for our students to hear very clearly from the Lord, so that when they come down from the mountaintop experience of camp, they are equipped and ready to live for the Lord in the day-to-day.”
There were many experiences at Camp Ocoee that Cory is sure will have a lasting impact on students, including a 6th-grade student named Trey. This was Trey’s first year of camp, and it far exceeded his expectations. Trey was able to “hear from the Lord through the speaker, worship songs, and camp leaders.” Not to mention, Trey had an absolute blast with his friends! Trey’s mom, Laura, feels that camp established a rhythm of prayer in Trey’s life. Camp leadership would ask Trey how they could be praying for him and eventually, Trey was emboldened to ask his leaders what they needed prayer for in return!
Ethan is another student whose life was changed through the friendships he built at Camp Ocoee! Ethan loves the Lord and is heavily involved with activities at Bellevue, but prior to camp was unable to connect with his peers and form godly friendships. At camp, this all changed! Ethan was able to share his gracious and loving personality with his fellow students, and they adored him! He now has friends that will sharpen and grow him in the months to come at Bellevue.
Camp Ocoee was effective in immersing the students in an environment where they could engage with the Lord, but the work does not end there! Cory believes that these experiences provide the students with the tools to navigate everyday life, and Bellevue staff and volunteers will walk with them in their journey. Each student received a study on the book of Mathew and will be plugged into a Life Group on their return to Memphis. The middle school team will continue to mentor many of these students weekly throughout the summer.
Learn more information about Bellevue’s Middle School Ministry by visiting bellevue.org/middle-school.