Ann Lawrence, manager of Farmington Conference Center in rural Maine, knows the eternal difference camp can make in the lives of young people.
Nestled in a region of the nation with a small evangelical Christian presence, Farmington is the only Southern Baptist-related conference center in New England. In that challenging setting, Farmington’s staff and volunteers are seeking to shine the light of Christ for children and youth.
“Camp changed my life — so camp kind of has a place in my heart,” said Lawrence, who also serves as the director of Farmington’s annual girls camp.
Focusing on the overall goals of input, output and impact, Lawrence said her team invited several of the older campers to help brainstorm camp goals, such as the ideal number of campers and staff needed and the output of life change among campers.
The bottom line, she said, is that “we want the kids to be faithful followers of Jesus and making disciples, and that’s all we’re about.”
“Missions is one of our avenues for them getting that to happen, for them to see the possibilities of what God might lead them to, but we don’t try to say you’re going to be a missionary,” she said. “We say we’re all missionaries. If we accept Christ, we’re all to help make disciples of others.”
How does that happen in practical terms at a rustic, picturesque Baptist camp in New England that ministers to a few dozen children and teens each summer?
It happens with typical camp activities ranging from swimming, hiking, archery and a ropes course, as well as overnight tent camping, cookouts and s’mores. Staff members purposefully seek to build personal relationships with each camper. Add in Bible and missions studies, daily devotionals and nightly worship services in an outdoor amphitheater and the camp’s spiritual focus becomes clear.
“We’re very intentional on what we present as far as their quiet time, their Bible study, the worship time and even reflections, which are often called devotions,” Lawrence said. “We figure the more you layer, the more they hear God’s word, the better off they’re going to be, so that’s what we’re doing. The more they interact with God’s word, the better.”
As Farmington staffers and volunteers seek to duplicate that impact each summer among children and youth from across New England, Lawrence said one of their biggest prayer requests “is always that we stay faithful.”