Mississippi College

Super Summer Camps at Mississippi College Transform Lives

July 18, 2014

Soon after a powerful tornado slammed into Tupelo and left a path of destruction in the Northeast Mississippi city, WCBI-TV reporter Allie Martin began to tell the tragic story with his video camera.

“I was at Vanelli’s restaurant ten minutes after the tornado hit doing the first live interviews,” Martin said of his news coverage of the twister. The April 28th storm smashed more than 100 businesses and damaged over 2,000 homes. One person was killed and others were injured in the city of 35,000 residents. Lives were turned upside down in an instant that afternoon in Lee County.

Working up to 80 hours a week was pretty typical in the aftermath of the storm for WCBI’s Tupelo bureau reporter. Away from his job in mid-July, Martin invested long hours as a team leader at Mississippi College’s Super Summer camp. He’s part of the delegation of adults helping more than 1,000 teens from state’s Baptist churches draw closer to God and enhance their leadership skills.

Teaching Biblical truths, serving as a mentor and supervising 80 high school seniors with the camp’s Purple School bears similarities to his non-stop storm reporting in Tupelo.

“I’m very busy and you don’t get a lot of sleep,” says the 49-year-old newsman who’s seen lives of teens transformed day and night on the Clinton campus. “It’s encouraging to me as an adult leader to see young people on fire for the Lord.”

Whether they’re singing praise music at Swor Auditorium, playing sports, or gathering for quiet Bible study, teens visiting Mississippi College say the five-day experience was truly amazing. The Mississippi Baptist Convention has sponsored Super Summer camps for more than two decades.

Some campers like Jonathan Hancock, 18, of Baldwyn, traveled to Mississippi College for a fifth consecutive Super Summer. He hopes to return next year as a camp staffer.

“I’ve really been able to see God at work in my life,” Jonathan says. “God likes to use Super Summer to equip warriors.” Finishing his week with the camp’s Purple School, he will be back in August as a Mississippi College freshman. The Baldwyn High grad plans to major in Christian Studies and pursue the ministry.

Another Purple School student here for her 5th year, Mackenzie Smith, 18, of Tupelo believes Super Summer taught her invaluable lessons. “I know God does immeasurably more things than I could imagine.”

A Tupelo High graduate and Calvary Baptist Church member, Mackenzie will bring her MC camp experience to Starkville as a Mississippi State freshman. She, like many others, learned to be “more bold in my worship and tell people about Jesus.”

Super Summer campers went beyond Mississippi College’s front gates. The oldest students traveled to the We Will Go Ministries in Jackson to share their love of Christ with needy families.

Super Summer added to her wonderful experience at Mission Fuge camp a few years earlier at the Baptist-affiliated university. “It feels like home - I’ve had so many good memories,” says Leah Bowlin, 18, a graduate of McLaurin High School near Florence. “This is a special place to me.”

Spiritually uplifting camp life plus the university’s new gross anatomy lab convinced Leah to enroll as a pre-med freshman at Mississippi College next month. The daughter of McLaurin teacher Stephanie Bowlin and Baptist pastor Ted Bowlin, Leah wants to share what she absorbed at camp with friends at Poplar Springs Baptist Church in Mendenhall.

Super Summer, says Michael Pace, 18, of Madison helped him develop a deeper relationship with God and build his confidence. The Madison Central High graduate will use his Christian leadership skills as a University of Alabama freshman this fall.

After an usually cool summer week in the Magnolia State, scores of church vans began leaving the Clinton campus on July 18th. Allie Martin headed home to Tupelo to see his wife, Robin, after wrapping up his 8th season as a Super Summer team leader. While away from WCBI-TV, his daughter, Alyssa, 22, filled in for her dad at the station. She’s also proud to be a Super Summer grad at Mississippi College.

Photo: Pictured are several Purple School members at the 2014 Super Summer camp at Mississippi College: Jonathan Hancock of Baldwyn, Mackenzie Smith of Tupelo, team leader Allie Martin of Tupelo, Leah Bowlin of Mendenhall and Michael Pace of Madison. Hancock and Bowlin will be MC freshmen in August.

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