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Missouri Baptist Church Youth Group Enjoys Mississippi College Summer Camp

Visitors from First Baptist Church Richland in Missouri enjoyed being a part of MFuge summer camp at Mississippi College in June 2013. Pictured on the front row at the Baptist Healthplex basketball courts in his St. Louis Cardinals shirt is church youth minister Micah Atkins.

About two dozen children from a Missouri church traveled nearly 500 miles to Mississippi College for a summer camp filled with spiritual growth, community service, sports and a little fun.

Temperatures sizzled into the mid-90s, but the weeklong Mission Fuge camp in mid-June was worth every drop of sweat for the 23 kids at First Baptist Richland, and the adults tagging along.

“I love these camps,” said 36-year-old youth pastor Micah Atkins. “It gets us out of our comfortable environment in Richland.”

During their visit, Mission FUGE campers played football and kickball with children from low-income families at a Jackson apartment complex. “This was an eye opener for them,” says Atkins, a Quachita Baptist University alumnus.

The visitors from the Show Me State also shared the Gospel with older Mississippi residents, including some who were jobless and discouraged as America’s economic woes lingered.

Later, the Missouri group boarded their vans for a blitz of Friday afternoon basketball games at the Baptist Healthplex on the Mississippi College campus in Clinton.

There was also plenty of time for Bible study, worship and Christian music for the youngsters at Baptist-affiliated MC that will welcome about 6,000 campers from 14 states before the season closes in late July.

“Everybody is wonderful and friendly,” says Brandi Atkins, a nurse who made the trip with her husband, Micah. For six days in June the group packed in sports with fellowship time and lively praise music at worship services at Swor Auditorium. “But the best part is the group devotion.”

The Missouri travelers made an overnight stop in Memphis, before traveling the rest of the journey to the 5,000-student Christian university located a few miles from the state capital in Jackson.

Once they unboarded the vans, the weeklong camp in Central Mississippi was blistering hot from morning through evening, said Ryan Roberts, a Richland High senior who’s a basketball and soccer player.

“We were sweating real bad,” he said, but that didn’t bother the 17-year-old once the children met the visitors at the Summer Park Apartments. “My favorite part of the week was playing with the little kids and seeing their faces,” Ryan said. Whether it was soccer, baseball or a game of elbow tag, everybody involved was a winner.

The visit by campers from churches around the South and nearby regions is something that’s been going on for years at Mississippi College. Working with a host of organizations, the campers reach out to inner city children from Jackson to Vicksburg. Yard work, painting homes, and Bible studies are part of the off-campus activities, too, said Ken Gilliam, MC’s continuing education director who helps oversee the camps every summer.

Fuge campers from Mandeville, Louisiana reported their experience at Mississippi College was enriching as well. “It was a great time. We came and wanted to focus on discipleship,” said Shan Taylor, youth pastor at First Baptist Church Mandeville. “We had good group discussions.”

His wife, Megan, joined him as Mandeville Baptist made its first visit to Mississippi College. Many of the 21 kids from the Bayou State agreed that worship services at Swor Auditorium were the best part of the trip to MC.