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Camper ‘Alumni’ Share Tips for Youth Camp

EDMOND—Summer time is finally here, and summer camp’s getting back in gear. On the Philadelphia Church of God headquarters campus, staff members are making preparations: holding meetings; planning activities; setting schedules; selecting staff; processing payments; filing documents; arranging volunteer housing; scheduling airport pickups; washing the pool deck; filling soccer field divots; painting softball diamond fencing, ordering balls, track equipment, Vitalyte, water bottles and camp shirts; and praying for the Canadian, Peruvian, South African youths who are facing government travel restrictions. The countdown for Summer Educational Program 2020, which begins July 7, is on.

If you are one of the 120 PCG youths who these staff members are preparing and praying for, you are probably gearing up for camp too. Here is some advice based on personal experience, from those who have been there before.

What to Pack

“I strongly recommend that you remember to pack a toothbrush, an extra pair of shorts and your best smile.”
Mikaylah Lorenz (four sessions)

“A good deodorant is key. Maybe bring some materials to make cards for your etiquette night date thank-yous. Another smart thing to bring is clothing that doesn’t need to be ironed.”
Emma Moore (three sessions)

New Campers

“The best piece of advice I received when I went to my first camp was ‘Remember who you are representing: You represent your congregation and family back home, they helped get you here so work every day to make them proud.’”
Tailor Santiago-Braga (four sessions)

“You’re going to experience a lot of new things: Face them head-on and be the one who volunteers, or be the one to go above and beyond in serving and things like that. … Make it a goal to leave camp not regretting anything or wishing you had done something.
Shelley Jones (five sessions)

“Don’t wait until the future to try new things and break out of your comfort zone. Do it now! You’ll thank yourself later!”
Michael Davis (five sessions)

Veteran Campers

“If you are older and more experienced, think about what made your first camps so great. A big part of what made my own first experiences with camp special was the older campers. They went out of their way to help me have a good experience. Now, you’re the older camper. You can have a huge impact, not only on their camp experience but in their life.”
Ashlynn McLain (five sessions)

“Make the most of dorm discussion time, whether in the morning or at the end of the day as the dorm winds down for bed. Looking back, I wish I had participated more in these dorm discussions. I believe it helps to draw the dorm closer together when each camper shares their thoughts.”
Cami Eagle (five sessions)

Making Friends

“Ask God to help you build the right kinds of friendships. Camp is one of the best times to make friends: do it the right way, and you will have greater friendships than you would have thought possible.”
Seth Malone (three sessions)

“I think if you are shy, it’s harder for others who may be a little nervous as well to befriend you. But being smiley and being confident attracts others. It’s probably the most helpful thing to make friends and honestly to make the most of the entire camp experience.”
Stephanie Moore (six sessions)

“Try to form some strong bonds with a handful of workers that you connect with or identify with, and keep in touch with them after camp.”
Mr. Ryan Malone (two sessions)

“Extend your friendship to everybody the best you can and be kind to all of your spiritual brothers and sisters, but try and find a few people who you really click with and who you can see a long-term friendship develop with.”
Elam Wilson (three sessions)

“Get to know other campers. Everyone there has something that is unique about them.”
Matthew Castillo (one session)

“Try hard to meet people who are different from you—that is, who don’t share all the same interests/personality traits, or are from a different part of the world.”
Daniel Di Santo (three sessions)

Making a Difference

“Be the camper to make a difference in the dorm, encourage those around you, be the one to respond first to instructions, be the positive one, be the one to keep fellow campers focused, etc.”
Izaak Lorenz (five sessions)

“Be as enthusiastic as you can. Cheer on your fellow campers.”
Elias Noe (four sessions)

“There’s no time to not give your heart at camp. It’s incredible but five camps go by fast and they’re the memories I think of most often. Camp is a wonderful experience, and it’s far better if you go all out. End camp with no more energy.”
Samuel McKoy (five sessions)

“Look for ways to help out, no matter where you are. You can help instructors in sports by giving it your all, help your counselors in the dorm, and help other campers to have the best camp ever. If you are looking to help, you will have an awesome camp.”
Marianna Balaa (four sessions)

Keep in Mind

“If you put in 100 percent effort it will produce 100 percent more fun.”
Olivia Alvord (five sessions)

“Smile even when things don’t go as planned. Determine to be happy and content no matter what, and you will walk away from three weeks with no regrets.”
Chrissie Dattolo (four sessions)

“Take the time to thank the kitchen workers as you go through the line, it will make their day.”
Micah Turgeon (seven sessions)

“Take all the lectures and Sabbath messages to heart. They’re going to influence you through the rest of your life if you do.”
Ian Lexa (four sessions)

Have a great camp!