Mississippi College

Super Summer Wraps Up 22nd Season at MC

July 17, 2009

Super Summer's sizzling week wrapped up Friday for 2009 Tupelo High graduate James Orr. But it won't be the last he will see of Mississippi College.

In fact, the 18-year-old from Lee County will spend a great deal of time on the Clinton campus the next four years. Orr will be back as an MC freshman who plans to study computer science starting in late August.

On July 17, Super Summer wrapped up its 22nd year at Baptist-affiliated Mississippi College. More than 800 students from churches all over the Magnolia State took part for five days of worship services, sports, guitar playing, fellowship and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many will stay in touch on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites.

"This is where God wants me to go," Orr said of his decision to enroll next month at Mississippi College as the Christian university embarks on its 184th academic year. He's been going to Super Summer camps at MC for the past five years. He already knows a number of MC students and loves the family-friendly environment in the land of the MC Choctaws.

For just over two decades, the Mississippi Baptist Convention in Jackson has sponsored Super Summer camps. Whether the campers are on the green team, the blue team or sport purple shirts, they are all on the same page with their love of the Lord.

Meridian resident Will Word, who turns 18 later this month, says he's also enjoyed the past five years as a Super Summer camper at MC. The incoming Meridian Community College freshman said his MC visit was "awesome" and he plans to return in the summer of 2010 as a team leader. "This week we went to the Jackson Salvation station to teach inner city kids and worship with them," he said. "And we brought the message back here."

A member of Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church in Meridian, the Mississippian will consider attending MC in a couple of years. He plans to study sports medicine as an undergraduate at Meridian CC. This week, he began Super Summer as a member of the red team, but switched to blue, yellow, green and finally purple before it was over. Students wave huge flags around the Quad and other sports on campus trumpeting their team colors.

The Super Summer camps at Mississippi College are part of the wave of nearly 10,000 campers from 14 Southern states invading MC from late May until late July. They come from Mississippi, Texas, Florida, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia to name a few.

"We have a great time,'' said counselor Randy Allen. He led a group of 39 kids from First Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Ala. here at MC for the Centri-Kid camp. They ranged in age from 9-11 year-olds.

The Super Summer kids are typically a little older. They are Baptist youth, usually 14 to 18, and recommended by their pastors, said Ken Gilliam, MC's director of continuing education. "It is really more of a Christian leadership conference," he said.

Gilliam oversees all the camps as part of his role at MC. The attendance of 819 Super Summer campers is the largest since he's been on the MC staff dating back 11 years.

Having thousands of kids on the Clinton campus this summer is also an excellent opportunity for the university to do a little recruiting and encourage the campers to become MC students down the road.

Rising juniors and seniors from the Super Summer camps were invited to a special luncheon. "We talked to them about MC and what we are about," Gilliam said.

The Super Summer camps originated in Texas and worked well in the Lone Star State. Mississippi Baptists brought that model to the Magnolia State and it's been "very successful" at MC ever since, Gilliam said.

The Super Summer campers come from all over - from Olive Branch, south of Memphis, to the Gulf Coast to the Delta. Tupelo's James Orr summed it up for many of his campers, who live in MC residence halls, dine in the cafeteria, worship loudly in Swor Auditorium and shoot hoops at the Baptist Healthplex. "It's been an amazing week."

Ken Hall of Clinton, the Super Summer camp director, is sold on its benefits to Christian youth. "I believe Super Summer is one of the most significant events in the life of a teenager and church," he said. "Our purpose is to help develop passionate followers of Christ. I believe Super Summer accomplishes that task."

Speaking as one who's devoted 30 years of service as a youth minister and 15 years of Super Summer camps, Hall added: "I don't know of another event where we see spiritual transformation of this level."

For more information on Super Summer, contact the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board at 601.968.3800 or Ken Gilliam at 601.925.3264 or gilliam@mc.edu.

Photo: Representing a few of the more than 800 youth from Baptist churches to the MC campus for Super Summer '09 is the Blue Team.

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