Mississippi College

Summer Campers' Walk Awaken the Spirit at MC

June 12, 2009

Alabama teacher Ginger Jones was impressed and deeply moved by what summer campers from her church near Decatur learned during their stay at Mississippi College.

With the five days of Centrifuge camp winding down in early June, Jones was eager to share her thoughts about her week as a youth leader at the Baptist-affiliated university in Clinton.

Whether they embraced the sounds of a loud Christian rock band, quietly participated in Bible study or played on the Quad, the 16 students from Enon Baptist Church will bring back good memories of their first Centrifuge camp at MC, she said.

"This has been an awakening of the spirit in our youth group's walk with God," Ginger Jones said on a sizzling day in Central Mississippi with temperatures approaching the mid 90s. "We have all grown closer to each other and, most importantly, to God," she said. "We will definitely be back next year!"

When she's not doing summer camp, Jones is often working around children. Jones is the reading coach at Alabama's Milton Elementary School.

Other Enon youth leaders, Chris Jones (Ginger's husband) and Cindy Turney, echoed her sentiments about Centrifuge, one of the LifeWay camps held at Mississippi College each year. The group from Alabama was comprised of boys and girls, ages 11 to 18. On Saturday June 13, they packed up their stuff from the MC dormitories and began their six-hour drive home.

Before they hit the road, Alabama campers gave their MC experience a big thumbs up.

"I am glad that this is my senior year and we decided to come to Centrifuge,'' said Danville High student Chelsea Keenum. "This is my first trip here and camp is awesome!. I love everything about it!''

Mississippi College expects to host nearly 10,000 campers this summer from 14 states, including Florida, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama.The two-month camp season ends in late July. It's also a way for MC to attract young people to the Christian university. A few years later, some of the summer campers later enroll as MC students.

Zachary Johnson, a camp counselor from Nashville and a Tennessee Tech graduate, says he's enjoyed the visit with his two dozen campers with Crievewood Baptist Church in Music City USA.

"It's been very organized," he said of the summer camp. "The food is excellent," Johnson said as he chowed down with a table full of campers at the MC cafeteria. Vanilla ice cream, ham and turkey sandwiches, the buffet line and gallons of iced tea are popular with the campers, parents and counselors.

Working for LifeWay as the leader of the Centrifuge and Mission Fuge camps at Mississippi College, 2008 Anderson University graduate Casey Bynum and her staff keep tabs on the 750 campers coming to MC each week.

"I like it when we all come together at worship," says Bynum, 23, who's on leave from her job as a shift manager at a Starbucks in Nashville. "We come together as one corporate body. It is really a blessing. Our worship band is phenomenal."

Last summer, Bynum led a smaller group of LifeWay camps at the University of Mobile in Alabama.

Campers from Alabama also gave their MC experience a big thumbs up.

"I am glad that this is my senior year and we decided to come to Centrifuge," said Chelsea Keenum of Danville High School. "This is my first trip here and camp is awesome! I love everything about it!"

It's not all fun and games and Bible time at MC. Each day, she said, campers also visit nursing homes, apartment complexes, churches and other places in metro Jackson. They go to spread the word about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

For more information on the summer camps at Mississippi College, contact MC director of continuing education Ken Gilliam at 601.925.3264 or gilliam@mc.edu.

Photo: Lifeway Campers from Enon Baptist Church in Decatur, AL

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