Staying true to the camp’s theme “Be the Light” from Matthew 5:14-16, a total of 63 teens from seven churches served at more than a dozen work sites from July 24-28, making the annual camp a huge success. Youths came from host church All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Lakeland, All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Winter Park, St. Barnabas’ in DeLand, St. Jude’s in Orange City, St. Michael’s in Orlando, St. Paul’s in Winter Haven, and the Church of St. Luke and St. Peter in St. Cloud.
It marked the second consecutive year the event was held in Lakeland. The mission week experience for sixth- through 12th-graders is put on by youth leaders of the Diocese of Central Florida. The mission week was relaunched in Orlando in 2015.
“The turnout was fantastic, and the cooperative and flexible spirit made for an amazing week,” said event organizer Kathy Hulin. “We tripled in participation from 2016. Each of the youth leaders had a role in making the week a huge success, and there was support from the diocese, the participating churches, other youth leaders in the diocese, and the partnering mission agencies in Lakeland.”
Seventeen youth leaders/chaperones and 14 support staff and volunteers from All Saints’ in Lakeland helped ensure success for the event, which had morning devotions and evening worship sandwiched around missionary work throughout the day.
“We had morning devotions and evening worship together to highlight ways to think about our experiences of the week and being the light for others,” Hulin said.
Campers had plenty to reflect on after extensive missionary work throughout Central Florida. Hulin said campers served the following mission agencies: A Woman’s Choice, Anchor House, Agape Food Bank, Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, Lighthouse Ministries, Parker Street Ministries for Kids, Talbot House, The Dream Center and VISTE (Volunteers in Service to the Elderly).
This year’s mission group also did projects for All Saints’ members’ homes, Bartow Elementary Academy, City of Lakeland Lakes Division, Lakeland homeless, Lakeland Police and Lakeland Firemen, and Lakeview Place Senior Apartments.
“Projects included interior and exterior painting of homes, small- and large-scale yard work, picking up trash, cleaning ministry buildings, feeding homeless, playing with children, sorting donated food and clothing items, assembling toiletry bags, and baking treats for local firemen and police officers,” Hulin said.
Campers began each day by having breakfast and morning devotion together at 8 a.m. The youths then loaded up to head out to various job sites, working from 9 a.m. to noon.
The teens then returned to All Saints’ for lunch before returning to job sites to work from 1 to 3 p.m. “We had some down time to take showers at the local YMCA and to hang out with one another until 6 p.m., when we returned for dinner at All Saints’,” Hulin said.
“The mission week was amazing, and our students have already been looking forward to next year!” Hulin said.