Mississippi College

Thousands of Summer Campers Return to MC

May 7, 2009

Leading three dozen youngsters from the small town of Clinton, La. to Mississippi College for Centri-Kid summer camp promises to be "like a Homecoming thing," the Rev. James Avance says.

A 2001 MC graduate, Avance is the senior pastor at Bluff Creek Baptist Church in the town of a little more than 1,000 folks near Baton Rouge. These young Clintonians from the Bayou State will among nearly 10,000 campers pouring into Mississippi College from late May through the end of July.

"It's a good Christian atmosphere," Avance says of the Centri-Kid camp. His campers will arrive in late June and stick around through Independence Day.

Living in college dormitories, dining on cafeteria food and taking time for Bible study plus fun games for a week will be a treat for the Natchez native and the Louisiana kids. "I like coming back to see how things have changed," Avance said. "I was among the first residents in the new men's dorm. I have good memories."

It should take the Bluff Creek Baptist Church group about three hours to make the drive from Clinton, La. to Clinton, Mississippi.

MC leaders like Ken Gilliam, director of the office of continuing education at the Christian university and the administrator who oversees the camps, are happy to accommodate the visitors.

The first MC campers arrive May 31 and the final day of summer camps is July 31. "The faculty, staff and students of Mississippi College will once again open and share their campus with thousands of students and staffers from all over the United States this summer," Gilliam said.

Last year, more than 10,000 summer campers visited the MC campus. MC offers programs for athletic and cheerleader camps as well as hosts LifeWay's CentriFuge, MissionFuge and Centri-Kid camps. The Mississippi Baptist Convention's Super Summer camps are also popular each year on the MC campus. Super Summer camps have been part of the MC landscape for more than two decades.

Typically, the campers come from 14 states all over the South, from Tennessee to Texas to Florida.

They definitely make a positive impact to help good causes in the Jackson metro area, Gilliam says. Over 2,300 of these students and adult sponsors contributed more than 30,000 hours of volunteer service to more than 30 ministry sites in the area. MissionFuge, for instance, "joined forces with local service organizations to share hope and offer helping hands in backyard Bible clubs, nursing homes, construction projects and soup kitchens," he said.

Making his second trip as a camp leader this summer, Avance says he hopes some of the children from Bluff Creek Baptist Church become students at Mississippi College in a few years.

From playing Frisbee on the MC Quad to shooting hoops at the Baptist Healthplex to quite time for Bible study, the 2009 camp season will keep the Clinton campus buzzing for a couple of months until MC's fall semester classes begin in August.

For more information on the MC summer camps, contact Ken Gilliam at 601.925.3264 or gilliam@mc.edu

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