Teenagers Taylor Reid, Bella Atandi and her sister Olivia Atandi will head home to Port St. Lucie this weekend full of stories about the games and fun activities they enjoyed during Student Life, a Christian summer camp held this week at Palm Beach Atlantic University.
But it will likely be the group discussions and quiet times of reflection that they remember the most, they said.
The camp leaders are able to explain concepts in a way that young people can understand, the teens said.
|Contemporary Christian band Bellarive leads worship during Student Life camp at Palm Beach Atlantic University this week.|
“You learn a lot of new stuff” in addition to what can be gained in a traditional church setting, said Reid, 15, who was part of a youth group from First Baptist Church of Port St. Lucie.
More than 600 youth from 22 churches across Florida and as far away as North Carolina attended the week-long camp, which concludes today.
Student Life is an organization based in Birmingham, Ala., that stages large-scale, Christian-themed summer camps across the country. This is the fourth year that PBA has hosted a Student Life camp.
This year’s theme was “Audacious,” and the lessons centered on how to live a radical life for God, how to be on guard and how to stand firm for Him, said this year’s speaker, David Rhodes.
Rhodes is a speaker, author and co-founder of Wayfarer, a resource ministry based in South Carolina. He also is a 1996 PBA graduate who went on to earn a Master of Divinity degree from Beeson Divinity School in 2000.
It was exactly 20 years ago that Rhodes first came to PBA as an undergraduate. He said it was during his PBA years that he grew from knowing that God was righteous to knowing that He is good.
Rhodes said that to be able to come back here and see young people dedicating their lives to God is a testament to His transformational power. “You see God’s redemption coming full circle in a lot of ways,” he said.
Rhodes and his wife, Kim, have been involved in camp ministry for more than 15 years. The couple met at PBA.
Rhodes, who travels extensively through his work as a speaker and author, has been working with the Student Life founders for years, dating back to his days at Beeson.
“These are friends and family, not just an organization,” Rhodes said.
Another PBA alumnus, Pastor Rick Thompson of Living Waters Community Church in Fort Lauderdale, brought a group of 30 students to the camp. It is the third year he has brought students to Student Life, he said.
The bands are great, the speaker is good and the energy level is high, he said. “The kids come back talking about it for weeks,” Pastor Thompson said.
Leaders at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks in Largo brought 100 students to this year’s camp. Family group leader Bryant Nardozzi has accompanied previous groups of campers. “It was cool to see them spiritually progress and grow and to see the Lord working in them,” he said.
Student Life also has a mission camp component in which several groups of campers travel off campus to volunteer in the surrounding community.
This year, 106 mission campers traveled off campus to do work for such organizations as Paint Your Heart Out, Berkshire Elementary, Seagull Ranch, Seagull Academy, J.A.Y. Ministries, Operation Hope, Mailbu Bay Apartments and Quantum House.