A mutually beneficial show of support: Finland Mennonite youth enrich the summer at Camp Men-O-Lan

Karen Roberts

waterslidefun.jpgEvery summer Camp Men-O-Lan is blessed to have summer staff members from nearby Mennonite churches. Usually there are only one or two youth from any particular congregation. But this past summer Finland Mennonite Church’s youth group provided five excellent counselors for the overnight and day camp programs.

Finland Youth Director Dave Landis encouraged them to get involved as a way of serving Christ and sharing their faith. Through his encouragement, four Finland youth participated in Men-O-Lan’s annual spring training for high school students who were exploring the possibility of summer camp work.

One of Camp Men-O-Lan’s goals is to mentor summer staff members so that they grow spiritually and gain experience that will help them become Christian leaders. Recently Dan Kratz, a day camp counselor from Finland, shared, “From dealing with the children, I learned to be more patient.”

He shared that he has learned to transfer what he learned into other areas of his life in which he needs patience. Dan’s sister Jennifer, a sophomore at Gordon College, was a resident camp counselor. She expressed that when she first came to camp, she had doubts about being able to adequately lead the girls in her cabin. After camp ended, she said, “I’ve learned that with God, I’m capable of doing things I never thought I could do.”

When asked what was the main impact of the summer, day camp counselor Samantha Keegan, another member of Finland’s youth group, responded, “Seeing the whole staff work together as a team and growing together spiritually.”

The mother of one of the high school age counselors recently shared that working at camp helped her son come out of his shell. Upon returning from camp, for the first time he is sharing publicly and has joined the youth worship team. He told her that one of the campfires during staff training week had a strong spiritual effect on him.

game.jpgTwo of the counselors didn’t want to miss out on the Finland youth group’s work camp mission trip. Believing that the trip was an important outreach, camp leaders made arrangements for them to be off that week. When they returned to camp they were able to share their experiences with campers. One of them was overheard telling campers, “If you ever get a chance to go on a missions trip, do it!”

Finland Mennonite’s participation and support was mutually beneficial. Their youth grew in many ways from their experience at camp. And campers at Men-O-Lan benefited from the good role modeling, love, and spiritual input that these counselors gave over the summer.