I just wanted a custard pie. Actually, I didn’t even want it—my daughter did. We were traveling out of state, on our way to visit family for Christmas, when we decided to stop at a random McDonalds for a break.
As soon as the cashier looked at me, her face froze, her mouth hanging open. I thought something was wrong. Are they out of pie? I wondered. Then she smiled. “You’re Steve!” she exclaimed. “You run the summer camp!” I laughed with surprise (and a little relief that I would still get my daughter’s pie). The cashier had attended camp years earlier as a child and still vividly remembered the impactful experiences she’d had here. After catching up with her briefly, we said goodbye and headed back out on the road.
As I drove, I marveled at how I happened to run into a former camper so far away from camp, and how she was able to recognize me after so much time had passed. It was yet another reminder from the Lord of the powerful impact summer camp has on young lives.
In just the sixteen years I’ve been at South Mountain, we’ve ministered to nearly ten thousand summer campers, and I’ve seen nearly two thousand of them come to know the Lord at camp. That number grows much larger when you consider the entire 40 years that SMCC has been in operation.
There’s no doubt that camp changes lives, and those lives, in turn, can impact more lives. Brian Houston, the pastor of Hillsong Church in Australia, has shared how his life took a dramatic turn at a summer camp. Christian music artists Brandon Heath and Toby Mac both came to know Christ at a camp. When you consider the millions of lives that just these three have touched, the impact grows exponentially.
Even at South Mountain, we’ve had former campers go on to become pastors, missionaries, and teachers, impacting the world for Christ. You never know whose life you’re going to touch through camp ministry, and you never know how many more lives might be touched as a result. We thank God for the opportunities that come our way every day.