Youth Depart Student Life Camp with Renewed Focus on Jesus

Nearly 600 middle- and high-school students and youth group leaders came to Palm Beach Atlantic University this week to get away from their busy lives and turn their attention to Jesus.

At the 2014 Student Life camp at PBA, youth from 16 churches throughout Florida and as far away as Minnesota took part in daily worship as well as recreational activities and small-group Bible studies. The week-long camp concluded Friday.

Naomi Bell, 14, and Mikaly Domond, 15, of First Covenant Church in Vero Beach said they both felt a step closer to Christ than when they came. “I’m leaving with a lot of new knowledge also,” Domond said.

"It's such a powerful experience any time you can get together with hundreds of believers and worship together in the same room," said David Wadsworth, a counselor with First Covenant.

Members of First Lutheran Church in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, paint a home as part of the Paint Your Heart Out program during the 2014 Student Life camp at Palm Beach Atlantic University. PBA is a private, Christ-centered college in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA.
Members of First Lutheran Church in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, paint a home as part of the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County's Paint Your Heart Out program. The church's youth group was in West Palm Beach for the 2014 Student Life camp at Palm Beach Atlantic University.

Student Life is an organization based in Birmingham, Ala., that stages large-scale, Christian-themed summer camps across the country. This is the sixth year that PBA has hosted a Student Life camp.

Based on the teachings in Mark 8:27-29, this year’s Student Life theme was “Who do you say I am?” The speaker for this year’s camp was Brent Crowe, vice president of Student Leadership University, and the worship leader was Atlanta-based musician Stan Johnson.

Twenty-six students from Calvary Church in Jupiter were among this year’s camp participants. Church member Madison Hedegard, 15, said the camp’s format provided many opportunities for young people to open up and ask questions.

“We were able to sit down and discuss really good topics that we need to talk about in order to discover who we are,” she said.

Her mother, Dabney Hedegard, also took part the camp as a small-group leader. Hedegard, a 1996 graduate of PBA, said that even after long days at camp, girls from her church were knocking on her door late at night for guidance about scriptures they could study on their own.

“It was really just so powerful,” Hedegard said. “They really get to focus on the Lord and dig deeper into the scripture.”

Student Life also has a mission camp component in which several groups of campers travel off campus to volunteer in the neighboring community. About 235 students and adults served at local churches and nonprofit organizations.

The volunteers included members of First Lutheran Church in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, who traveled 31 hours by bus to take part in the mission camp. The group served at The Lord’s Place and Quantum House, and they painted three houses through Paint Your Heart Out.

“It was a great way for us to go serve and help the community,” said Corey Paxton, associate pastor at First Lutheran. “At the same time we were being poured into by Student Life each day. It was an excellent experience for our young people.”

Other organizations where Student Life mission camp participants volunteered included Seagull Industries, Redeeming School Time, J.A.Y. Ministries, Seminole Circle, Malibu Bay Apartments, Dyson Circle Apartments, Schall Landing Apartments, Lourdes-Noreen McKeen Residence, Gray Mockingbird Community Garden, C.R.O.S. Ministries, Pine Jog Elementary and Marjorie S. Fisher Boys and Girls Club.