Camp Ocoee Recap

For a few days out of the summer near the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, the pristine serenity of nature is met with the laughter and screams of Bellevue’s middle school students. At Camp Ocoee, students can thrive in a faith-building community while kicking off summer with a bang.

Throughout the week students donned neon face paint and matching colored shirts and competed in different activities to see which team would be the victor. Whether dancing across the stage or rooting for a win, students experienced the excitement of camp through competition, but also through worship and prayer.

This year the camp’s central theme of “The Good News” allowed students to understand the depth and importance of the Gospel.

For Carson Everson, a Next Gen Ministerial Assistant and adult leader for her cabin, camp was a place for growth.

“I love camp, and if I could live at camp, I would,” Carson said. “I think that Bellevue is so good at praying and being faithful in obedience to the Lord, and I think that their camps are the fruit of that. These kids are trying to figure out who they are—they’re trying to figure out which paths to take, and being able to work with these girls has been a blessing because I have been able to grow and get to know them and see where they’re at in this point in their life.”

Middle School Ministerial Assistant and cabin leader Ethan Franks also witnessed many students grow and transform.

“When you’re able to hear biblical teaching for more than 100 hours—where you start your day with the Word of God, you have competition centered around the Gospel, then you end your day in the Word—you have people that really get to slow down and connect with the Lord in ways they never have,” Ethan said.

Camp Ocoee ended each night with a time of worship, and for 8th grader Zach Zapata, that is where he saw the Holy Spirit move in a mighty way.

“I prayed Monday morning for God to create a spiritual moment, and He did during that worship night; it was crazy,” Zach said. “Everyone went up to the front to pray, and people had their arms around each other—it was really moving.”

Even though this was Zach’s last year at camp, he plans on going back in future summers and helping those who attend to have the same amount of fun as he did.

“I was sad that it was my last time going as a camper, but when I go into high school I’ll be happy to help the new kids in middle school,” Zach said. “That’s why I think the high school leaders go—because they want to help out but also because they miss camp too.”

The memories that students made were unforgettable, and Camp Ocoee made its mark on the hearts of many. More than 20 students gave their lives to Christ, and many others received biblical counsel for different situations they are navigating.

Middle schoolers returned from camp physically drained but spiritually renewed.

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