Mississippi College

MC Welcomes Thousands of Summer Campers

May 22, 2008

Basketball, cheerleading, Bible studies, music and much more are part of the 2008 summer camp season at Mississippi College.

Despite rising gasoline prices and a sluggish economy, MC officials expect to welcome 10,000 campers from around the South. That should be up slightly from the 9,956 campers coming to the Clinton campus last summer, said Ken Gilliam, director of continuing education.

The action begins with the Super Hoops Team Camp May 29-31 with a number of Mississippi high school basketball teams to square off with scrimmages at the A.E. Wood Coliseum.

Activities continue with the first week of Centrifuge/M-Fuge camps set for June 2-7 and cheerleading camp scheduled June 3-6. Baseball day camp will be June 16-19, volleyball camp June 30-July 2 and music camp July 6-12. Also popular at MC: the Mississippi Super Summer, a week-long camp sponsored by the Mississippi Baptist Convention. It is designed for Baptist youth leaders. Last July, MC marked the 20th anniversary of the Super Summer camps, with nearly 700 teens showing up. They came from churches stretching from Tupelo to Brookhaven to Louisiana.

"Our expectations are to grow the camps to full occupancy and continue to nurture MC's reputation as LifeWay's premier site for Centri-Kid, Centrifuge and M-Fuge," said Gilliam, whose Division of Continuing Education oversees the slew of camps.

The Nashville-based LifeWay group is the umbrella for a number of camps that combine fun events, and sports with quiet time for Bible studies, prayer, food and fellowship. The camps create a greater exposure to MC all over the region. Reports show that youngsters and adults typically come from more than 434 churches in 14 states, including Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Alabama, he said.

"As partners with LifeWay, our most important common goal is delivering the Gospel message," Gilliam said. Working closely with youngsters and adult sponsors, MC staff works hard to ensure "that each kid has a safe, enjoyable and memorable visit to the MC campus," he said.

"My prayer for the summer is that when students come to Mississippi College, they are not just spending a fun week away from home," said Capri Brooks, director of LifeWay camps at MC. She said she hopes they "will have a life-changing experience where they will meet with their Savior."

Attendance at MC's LifeWay camps includes children mostly from Baptist churches, but kids from several Methodist churches are also flocking to the 182-year-old school, America's second-oldest Baptist college.

Prices vary, with room and board plus camp costs amounting to $275 for M-Fuge for a week, and $270 for Centrifuge. This year is extra special with the 4,600-student Baptist university and other schools celebrating 30 years of Fuge camps.

Gilliam said MC's summer camp enrollment will pick up additional campers after a tornado earlier this year heavily damaged Baptist-affiliated Union University in Jackson, Tenn. Union had to cancel its summer camps as the campus continues to recover from the destruction to its residence halls and other buildings.

The summer camp season helps MC recruit students, adds a source of revenue to the school, and fits in with the school's service mission, Gilliam said.

MC and its guests are enriched in many ways. Last year, about 2,000 teens and adult sponsors contributed more than 32,352 hours of volunteer service in the Jackson area when MC hosted M-Fuge. The camps assist in fulfilling MC's mission of service to the community through a variety of learning opportunities. M-Fuge served more than 45 sites in the Jackson metro area, including the Baptist Children's Village, Boys and Girls Clubs, Willowood Development Center, Funtime Daycare, the Grace House, Christians in Action, Mission First and the Forest Hill Nursing Home.

The summer invasion of young people keeps MC residence halls and the campus cafeteria busy from late May until late July. Camp season includes a July 28-31 visit by the Hillcrest Marching Band from Jackson.

Summer camp season also provides a nice shot in the arm to local restaurants, from McAlister's to Newk's and Chic-fil-A to Little Caesar's.. A number of the restaurant owners make sure that discount coupons get in the hands of thousands of campers at MC.

For additional details on summer camps at MC, contact Gilliam at 601-925-3264 or gilliam@mc.edu or go to www.lifeway.com/kidscamps.

PHOTO: 2007 Centrifuge outdoor group activity on the Quad at MC

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