HANNIBAL – Each year, the gospel transforms the lives of hundreds of students from across Missouri during Super Summer, a Cooperative Program-funded summer camp hosted by Hannibal-LaGrange University and designed by the Missouri Baptist Convention to draw students closer to Jesus Christ.
“Super Summer is designed both for middle school and high school students,” Jason Walters, the MBC’s director of Super Summer, said. “And it’s also designed for students regardless of where they are in their spiritual journey—whether they’re a student who has no background with the church and doesn’t understand Christianity, or a student who is a committed follower of Jesus.”
But no student leaves Super Summer without being challenged to move forward in his or her walk with Christ. In fact, this year, the camp includes a new track called “Next Level” that equips young Christians to lead their peers toward Christ and make disciples. This learning track at the camp is tailored for dedicated Christians who desire to grow, but who don’t necessarily feel called to the ministry.
In 2018, the camp also will feature the “Kaleo” track, designed to train students who have sensed a call to vocational ministry.
Yet, no matter how much progress they’ve made spiritually, all students can benefit from Super Summer, Walters said.
“I absolutely believe in camp because my life was radically changed when I was 15-years-old, because God got a hold of me at camp,” he said. “There are so many things competing for the attention of students today, even more so now than 25 years ago when I was in high school. I believe that if we can separate students from all those competing voices, they can hear God speak into their life. And we’ve seen God radically change students and set their lives on a different trajectory. … We have youth pastors across the state that would testify to this.”
Brian Veal, an associate pastor at First Baptist Church, Moberly, agrees.
“One of the biggest advantages” of Super Summer is the opportunity it gives people “to connect. … It’s great to see our students connect with the Lord. It’s fun for them. It’s hard to get kids up at 7:00 in the morning unless they want to, and what we’ve seen is that they really want to when they’re there. That’s because they do such a good job of giving them a reason to want to get up and go deeper in the word.”
Adult leaders who bring students to Super Summer also benefit from connections they make throughout the week, Veal added. “You’re able to sit around the table with people who can guide you through tough times.”
These opportunities to connect exist for a purpose, Walters said.
“I loved coming to Super Summer as a youth leader,” he said, “because at most camps, youth leaders are required to do a lot. But we don’t ask a lot of our youth leaders when they come to Super Summer.”
More than half of these adult leaders, he explained, are either bivocational or volunteer, so the MBC envisioned a summer camp where they could grow and be encouraged alongside their students.
“Adult leaders can come and be invested in, encouraged, trained,” he said. “They get to network with other adult leaders across the state. Some of my best friends in ministry are guys that I met and befriended at Super Summer, because we had an opportunity to hang out, make connections and encourage each other.”
But these opportunities wouldn’t exist without the help of MBC collegiate missionaries. These missionaries, funded through the Cooperative Program, spend 10 weeks doing ministry each summer, and all of them commit one week to serving at Super Summer.
“Of all the groups of people that come to Super Summer, nobody gets stretched or gets challenged more than these college students who serve as small-group leaders,” Walters said. “That’s really where the rubber meets the road.”
The theme for Super Summer 2017, set for the weeks of June 12-16 and June 19-23, is Shine, based on Philippians 2:15b-16: “… shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.” The featured speaker is Alvin Reid, professor of evangelism and student ministry at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Worship will be led by the Chris White Band.
Early Bird Registration ($209/student) for the camp ends May 5. To learn more about Super Summer, or to register, visit www.mobaptist.org/supersummer.
Super Summer is a Cooperative Program ministry of the Missouri Baptist Convention.