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.
Christina Cleveland Glendye first attended the Conference’s summer camp at Epworth By The Sea during the summer of 1992. A rising fourth-grade student, Christina was excited to attend camp, especially after hearing her dad tell stories of his camping experiences.
“My grandfather was a retired Methodist minister in the South Georgia Conference (the late Rev. Weyman R. Cleveland), and going to camp at Epworth seemed very special to me!”
Christina created her own memories during the three years she attended camp, and still remembers all of her counselors and some of the songs and games she learned as a camper.
As a freshman at the University of Georgia, Christina met and became friends with a former Leadership Team member who encouraged her to apply to be a counselor. Through prayer, she felt God leading her in that direction, and submitted her application.
She spent three summers – 2002, 2003 and 2004 – serving on the Leadership Team, including one as Head Counselor.
“Those summers were some of the best and most memorable times of my life,” Christina said.
After graduating with a degree in Early Childhood Education, Christina married her college sweetheart and moved back to their hometown of Savannah. After working as a fourth-grade teacher for four years, she is now a stay at home mom to two young boys.
Her time at Epworth By The Sea, as both a camper and a counselor, had a profound impact on her faith.
“Because I grew up in the church, I was definitely a child who knew all of the Bible stories and all of the church answers,” she said. “I knew who Jesus was and that He had died on the cross for me. However, during my third summer as a camper at Epworth, my faith became something so much more.”
That summer, a camp speaker’s simple explanation of the Gospel resonated with the sixth-grader.
“It was during this week of camp that I first truly understood that I was a sinner and in need of a Savior,” Christina said. “After that week, Epworth became a very special place to me. It became a place that marked a huge step of faith in my life, a place that marked one of many spiritual milestones.”
It was during her first summer on Leadership Team that she felt God confirm her calling to study education and work with children. During her second summer, God began to give her a true heart for ministry.
“After a summer at Epworth, I knew that God wanted me to devote my life to working with children, whether in the classroom, in the church, or with my own children,” Christina said. “He confirmed to me that ministry would always be a huge part of my life.”
God revealed himself in new ways through her camping experiences, and the things Christina learned have strengthened and guided her outside of camp, too.
“One of the primary things I learned each summer was that God is enough! He was my strength when I was tired, He was my words when I wasn’t sure what to say, He was my confidence when I was feeling insecure.
“To say my time at Epworth has impacted my life is a complete understatement. Camp was where I first truly realized the depths of God’s love. Serving on the Leadership Team confirmed God’s calling on my life to work with students and gave me the heart and confidence for ministry. During my time at Epworth, God taught me countless lessons of faith that have been lessons to lean on when life gets tough. And though I am not a pastor or in a position of ‘full time ministry,’ my camping experiences have helped me to view my life as a ministry.”