HANNIBAL/BOLIVAR – More than 700 youth attended week-long Super Summer camps at either Hannibal-LaGrange or Southwest Baptist Universities in June.
They represented 27 churches at HLGU and 22 at SBU. In addition, another 15 churches between the two sent teaching pastors, but no youth, to Super Summer.
“We had senior pastors between the ages of 30 and 65 come and lead the sessions. They preached the word and connected with the youth,” said Bob Caldwell, camps director from The Ridge Church in Villa Ridge.
He said using senior pastors allowed the regular youth leaders to be “fed and loved on.”
Caldwell said the two camps carried different personalities, although the theme was the same – the Hebrew equivalent to “Complete The Task,” as referenced in Acts 20:24.
“The different personalities were not good and not bad. They were just different. But the end result was a faithful God moved hearts,” Caldwell said.
During each Super Summer, there was age-divided Bible teaching and games, full group fellowship and games and time for each church group to gather themselves.
In the two weeks, there were over 30 new decisions of youth coming to Christ, more than 10 surrendering to some type of ministry, and multiple rededications.
“We want students who don’t know Christ to come to Christ, but Super Summer is big on discipleship of Christian students as they move to the next level. It’s not a Monday through Friday event, although that’s what is advertised. It’s about the next 50 years,” Caldwell said.
Missouri Baptist collegiate summer missionaries assisted camp leaders during both weeks of Super Summer.
“I don’t know what we’d do without the summer missionaries. David Hendrick is gifted in working with the college missions,” Caldwell said.
Chris Norman, Next Gen Pastor at Connect Church in Fenton, brought 15 youth to SBU Super Summer.
“We’re a church plant, and this was the first time we brought youth. Some youth came before with another church. I was privileged to connect with other youth pastors and to hear Tom Hufty come and share. It was beneficial for many of us.”
Garrett Trunk, associate pastor of discipleship and youth at Hamilton Street Baptist in Kirksville brought seven students to HLGU Super Summer, all who had previously attended.
“I went to Super Summer as a student. In fact, I was called to the ministry at Super Summer. I totally believe in it. They look forward to come back spiritually to learn and grow. (This year) Tom Hufty taught of twelve cries every parent needs to hear from their kids. It was related to youth ministry,” Trunk said.
Two recent high school graduates were first time attendees at HLGU.
“I’ve enjoyed seeing how God works things. A lot of friends had come here before and said it was great, and the worship was great. I came here and I see how it’s all-encompassing. It’s beautiful to see tons of kids around the state for the single purpose of giving praise and glory to God,” said Josh Obenhaus, of First Baptist Church, Potosi.
“I used to think it was for little kids. Friends insisted I come, and I’m glad they made me come. It exceeded my expectations. The worship was good, but I felt God’s presence more in learning the Word than in the praise and worship. The more I am in the Word, the more I want to be in the Word. I used to be scared about evangelizing, but now it’s scarier thinking of their eternity,” said Aubrie Rector, of First Baptist Church, Macon.
Jayden Heck, an upcoming junior, and Chloe Perstrope, an upcoming sophmore, are both from the Connect Church and attended Super Summer at SBU.
“Everything they taught us was amazing and detailed. I loved how in-depth they taught the Bible and dissected the verses, and how they connected the Old and New Testaments. It’s an amazing way to (better) know the community you are in and meet with other youth groups. I could understand everything,” Heck, a Super Summer newbie said.
“This year we had really good small groups and leaders and worship. I totally plan to go again. I think the speaker was really good and thorough. It was real clear explanations if someone didn’t know Jesus,” said Perstrope, who also attended in 2019.