HOUSTON – At 14-years-old, the young girl had seen things that no child should ever have to see.
“When she came to camp we knew she had went through so much and she was just distraught, her eyes were almost dead inside,” said Delta Hernandez, a youth leader at Boone Creek Baptist Church in Licking and one of the founders of G1, a free youth summer camp held at Simmons Baptist Camp here. “We prayed for her and watched while God got a hold of her at camp. She started coming to youth group and the changes in her are just amazing. Now you can see the light back in her eyes and she knows where she got it—she knows she got it from God.”
In 2017, the camp’s first year, they welcomed 32 students and saw two salvations. The next year they had 42 students and saw four salvations. So as Hernandez and her team of volunteers prepare for this third year of G1 (God First) camp that will take place June 7-9, they believe that God will continue to use the camp to impact the students it serves.
“When the kids come in you see them and they just seem so beat down, it’s like the life has been sucked out of them,” Hernandez said. “But by the time the weekend is over they seem so much lighter and filled with hope. It’s such a blessing to see the Lord refresh them.”
Hernandez and her husband, Dusty, have served in youth ministry at their church for the last four years. They have two adult children, ages 26 and 20, and twin 15-year-old sons. She said the Lord put the idea of a summer camp in her mind in 2016 while she was helping a friend’s church do Vacation Bible School at Simmons Baptist Camp.
“God said we needed to host a camp, but I never went to any kind of church camp as a kid so I kept pushing it back,” Hernandez said. “Then I heard Him say so clearly, ‘Do a camp where kids can come and worship Me.’”
While there seemed to be more questions than answers during the camp’s early stages, one thing was certain: the camp would be completely free to all students.
“We knew the Lord wanted this camp to happen, so we knew the Lord would take care of all the costs that might be associated with it,” Hernandez said.
And God put the right people in their path to make their camp vision become a reality. Boone Creek Baptist Church pays the total cost of renting the camp facility, while volunteers representing 14 other churches from different denominations help with G1 camp in some way: some will teach, give testimony, pray, help with food, help with music, organize outdoor activities, and much more. The camp has also become an opportunity for leadership training with former students coming back to help in “junior leader” roles.
“Our churches are working together instead of being so divided,” Hernandez said. “We make sure everything taught is strictly Biblical and we do background checks and have certified lifeguards. It’s pretty amazing how God has brought everybody together.”
While they have quite a few signed up for this year’s G1 camp, Hernandez said they still have room for more—but space is limited. For more information, visit the G1-God First-Free Youth Camp Facebook page.
“We just want to provide a safe place for youth to come and worship,” Hernandez said. “They don’t have to carry things that have happened in the past. With Him first in their lives, He’s the one leading them and that’s the only way for them to truly get rid of whatever it is that’s holding them back and follow Him. ”