LT Alumni Spotlight - Aaron Avera

10/21/2013

For more than 30 years, children, youth and young adults have been ministered to through the South Georgia Conference’s summer camping ministry. Through their camp experiences – whether as a camper or counselor – all have said their faith was strengthened and encouraged.

To celebrate the Conference’s camping ministry and the impact it has had on generations of students, we asked former counselors (Leadership Team alumni) to share with us how their camping experience(s) shaped and grew their faith and impacted their futures.

We’ll spotlight one former Leadership Team member in each of our upcoming issues.

Reinhardt University senior Aaron Avera dreamed of one day serving on the Leadership Team.

As a fourth-grade student, 9-year-old Avera attended the Conference’s summer camp for the first time. He returned each of the next five summers, and looked forward to camp each year.

“I absolutely loved going to camp,” he said.

Avera’s camp counselors made a big impact on his life and inspired his desire to one day serve on the Leadership Team himself. Today, 12 years after he was a first-year camper, Avera still remembers many of his counselors.

“Ever since my fourth-grade year my dream job was to be a camp counselor,” he said. “The fact that I remember so many of my counselors shows that they really do impact your life.”

Avera, son of Stacy and Rev. Matt Avera, pastor of Pembroke United Methodist Church, likens the Leadership Team to a family.

“When you are here for a summer with other college-age students who are on fire for God it’s magical,” said Avera, who served as a counselor in 2011 and 2012, and as head counselor in 2013. “They are always there for you and they become family. You start to see these other counselors as brothers and sisters because you are with them 24/7.”

Not only does he consider his fellow counselors family, two really are, and one will be.

Alaina Avera Harrison, Avera’s sister, also served on the Leadership Team. So did her husband, Greg. And Avera met his fiancée, Brooke Woodall, while both were serving as counselors.

The relationships and experiences gained while working on the Leadership Team are worth more than the money he earned, Avera said.

“I wouldn’t trade any of this for the world,” he said. “I don’t think you could pay me money not to go to camp. We do get a paycheck, which is nice, but I could never consider this a summer job. I had the privilege to go on this vacation and worship with other college kids and minister to youth. I think this experience is worth more than the check you get at the end. I’m not saying that I don’t appreciate the money, but if this job was free I would still work it and not hesitate to apply. It is that rewarding.”

A middle-grades education major, Avera’s camping experiences helped reinforce his desire to become a middle-school teacher.

“I consider (teaching) a ministry in itself,” he said. “I thought I had just chosen a major, but God was telling me, ‘You didn’t just choose it, I led you to it.’ My years on LT helped reinforce that God is love and that he loves through people.”

Serving on the Leadership Team is a once-in-a-lifetime experience Avera wishes all college students could have.

“LT is family,” he said. “It is so rewarding and so life changing. I will never forget the people I have met at camp. And I know I will always have this LT family for the rest of my life.”

Are you or is someone you know interested in serving on the Conference's summer Leadership Team? Click here to learn more about the ministry and how to apply. Applications are due no later than Jan. 31, 2014.