“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Western Baptist Youth Camp
For almost a quarter-century, youth have attended the Western Baptist Association’s annual youth camp at Fort Frame 4H Camp in Hedgesville, West Virginia. Fourth graders to graduating seniors have made decisions to follow Jesus, strengthened their faith, played some awesome games, made crafts, learned about missions, and several met their future wives and husbands. Due to COVID-19, the camp did not occur this year, however, Camp Director Dee Lockard, a member of Second Baptist Church in Cumberland, Maryland, met with other camp leaders on Zoom and came up with a plan to keep the camp spirit alive.
“We got permission from the groundskeeper to go and video different scenes throughout camp, following the regular routine,” says Lockhard.
During camp week, July 13-17, Lockard has been releasing a “Taste of WBA Youth Camp 2020” video for each day, starting with the drive to camp. The videos show photos of camps past and include Lockard and other leaders sharing at different areas of the campground. They also incorporate short messages by Senior Camp Chaplain Jim Jeffries, who pastors both LaVale Baptist Church in Maryland and Zion Community Church in Wellersburg, Pennsylvania.
“Our craft leader (Sue Nealis, a member of Cumberland Community Church in Maryland), who is really talented and has an awesome sense of humor, made some “‘COVID Kids.’” says Lockard, who affectionately named the cardboard cut-outs Sue and Sam. Lockard kicks off the videos by giving the rules to the COVID Kids and to youth leaders.
In one of the craft sessions, Lockard highlights the craft area showing rocks, “snakes” and “spiders.” In the video, Lockard says, “Our craft ladies always encounter snakes and spiders, and we always include them but notice they’re wearing their masks because they too are being safe.”
Jeffries encourages campers, sharing, “When Jesus died on the cross he broke our bonds to sin and when he rose from the dead on the third day, he set us free from our biggest enemy of all – that’s death. Jesus made that possible. This is a year of rest for youth camp. We’re looking back to getting together in 2021. While we’re taking a rest, it’s all in God’s plan.”
Mike Kestler, from Utah, put together the videos. Kestler visited the camp years ago while a student in a music group from California Baptist State University. Kestler liked the camp so much that he has returned every year to help with music, technology, and video production. Lockard contacted Kestler about putting together the video for this year and he was happy to oblige.
Lockard says eight to 10 campers accept Christ each year, about 10 percent. “Most of these kids already know Jesus and have been saved. They are really strengthening and deepening their faith. A few years ago, we did a survey. The kids liked the idea of being away from the world for a week and being with Christian friends in a Christian environment. They even liked giving up devices for that time. That really impressed me,” she added. Read more about WBA’s camp here. All of the camp videos can be viewed on the Western Baptist Association Youth Camp page.
Freedom Church in Baltimore is having a Vacation Bible School “in a box” from August 10 to 14. The theme is “Wilderness Escape.” Families can register online and they’ll receive a VBS kit filled with craft materials and other activities. Students from ages four through 13 can watch interactive videos and interact with an online VBS community.
First Baptist Church of Beltsville in Maryland had a virtual Vacation Bible School from June 29 to July 3. Pastor Keith Holland was happy with the results. “It’s hard to know [exact] participation, but we’ve had an average viewership of 120. That includes YouTube and Facebook postings.”
The church used LifeWay’s “Concrete and Cranes” curriculum and recorded the different portions including music with choreography, crafts, and recreation. “It had the same feel as the kids were used to,” Holland said. Though the official week of VBS ended, Holland said he hasn’t put a time limit on the videos, so people can still continue to watch.
The church offered “porch packs” that included craft items, Bible study information, and snacks. They delivered 20 porch packs to those who registered. They still have some left for those who request one.
Holland said the church considered the various options for VBS, but he emphasized, “Cancelling VBS was not an option. God uses VBS to win a lot of kids to Christ.”
Riva Trace Baptist Church in Davidsonville, Maryland, will have Vacation Bible School outside in the mornings and evenings on July 27, 29, and 31, with July 28 and 30 as the rain dates. They’ll meet on the church lawn for singing, Bible stories, games, and pre-packaged snacks. It’s open to kids in kindergarten through fifth grade but the whole family can attend. Families can sit together and should bring lawn chairs or blankets. The church will assure that social distancing takes place. They’re using LifeWay’s “Concrete and Cranes” curriculum.
“In 1785, First Baptist Church of Baltimore organized on land by Jones Falls (where the Baltimore Shot Tower now stands.)”
“In 1797, Second Baptist Church of Baltimore began a Sunday school, reported to be one of the first to use the Bible as its only textbook and with all volunteer teachers ”
History Highlights are reprinted from “Gofwd: A Southern Baptist Retrospective,” a special feature publication of BaptistLIFE.
“When people are squeezed existentially, I see the Psalms coming out of them.” – Kevin Smith
“Our days are numbered … what preparations should we be making now?” – Billy Graham