Posted on : Thursday August 9, 2018

By Sharon Mager

Hedgesville, W. Va.—The 72nd annual Western Baptist Association (WBA) Camp at Fort Frame 4H Camp, Hedgesville, W. Va., last month brought 82 campers and 32 camp staffers, representing half of the WBA churches and two from New River Baptist Associaton, Jacksonville, N.C.

Kenny Heath leads a Bible study time during the annual WBA Youth Camp.

“Each year, at the end of camp I think, ‘It can’t get better than this,’ and the next year it’s even better,” said Camp Director Dee Lockard, a member of Second Baptist Church.

Campers ranged from those entering fifth grade to high school seniors. Even with the age differences, the campers get along well and support each other.

“The kids were fantastic,” Lockard said. “I haven’t, for the past five years, had any issues as far as misconduct at camp at all.” They are conscientious and they take their Bible studies seriously, she added.

This year’s theme was imprinting God’s Word on our hearts and minds, based on Deuteronomy 11:18, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.”

Campers prayed for Abraham Aguila, shown at his swearing in as a U.S. Marine.

The theme was carried throughout worship services, Bible studies, and mission studies. During the evening campfire, “live” Bible characters shared about the scriptures studied that day.

This year’s highlights included welcoming a young camper who discovered he had leukemia just two weeks after last year’s camp. He went through intense chemo and in March a bone biopsy showed no cancer.

“We were so excited!” Lockard said. The student was thrilled about coming back to camp, but at the last minute, found out he would need to go to summer school to make up for the time in the hospital.

“He called me on the night before camp and said, ‘Miss Dee, my classes are done on Thursday. Would it be okay if I came on Thursday afternoon and stayed till Friday?’

“When he came in, everyone stopped to greet and hug him, not just campers but staff members, too. Everyone praised God for his healing,” Lockard said.

Another highlight was prayer over Abraham Aguila, the son of Keith Aguila, pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Cumberland and his wife, Joy. Abraham enlisted in the Marine Corps and was leaving for basic training the Monday following camp. “We all rallied around him the entire week. On Friday we had a ‘laying on of hands’ and prayed for him, for his safety and strength.”

Campers enjoy competing as teams during Bible drills. (2017 camp photo)

Kenny Heath, Western Baptist Association director of missions, who also serves as Associate/Civilian Member and Adjutant with the Mountainside Marines, Detachment #1071 Marine Corps League, led the prayer over Abraham. “I’ve watched him grow up, both in our church and in our camp. What a privilege to call up his dad and Joe Twigg, both Marines, then other veterans, to surround Abraham as we all prayed a prayer of commissioning over him!” Heath said.

Heath has fun at camp. He takes on the role of “Coober” each year,  a fun kooky character who lives in the dumpster and enjoys clowning about with the kids.

WBA Director of Missions Kenny Heath enjoys his role as “Coober” at camp.

Jim Jeffries, pastor of LaVale Baptist Church, was the senior camp pastor, serving alongside Keith Aguila; Mark Weeks, associate pastor of Pleasant View Baptist Church; Doug Sandy, pastor of Second Baptist Church, Cumberland; and Joe Twigg, pastor of  Korean Baptist Church, Jacksonville, N.C.

Last year at the WBA annual meeting, they included a camp reunion. Campers took part in the worship. Past campers, some now in their 80’s shared their camp experiences. Many return as camp counselors and bring their children and grandchildren.