Lifeguarding, facilitating ropes courses, cleaning guest rooms, cooking and serving food to guests — these are just a few ways Shocco’s resident summer staff (RSS) serve guests at the Baptist conference center each summer. But RSS members also minister outside the Talladega campus as part of their duties.
Program director Blaire Butler arranges for all RSS members to participate in a short-term missions trip during their time at Shocco. This year, for the first time since 2019, the students were divided into four teams and sent to smaller camps across the state of Alabama.
The trip to Alabama WMU’s WorldSong Missions Place in Cook Springs was led by recreation director Casey Pearson. This “all guy” team’s main project was working on WorldSong’s ropes course elements, which are set in the trees across the WorldSong campus. As the trees grew and expanded through the years, the hardware was enveloped by the growing trees. Shocco’s team reinstalled and replaced all of their safety/belay cables.
“The most exciting part was that in addition to our experienced guys, we were able to include some young college guys who have never had the opportunity to get in a harness, climb a tree, and work with their hands,” Pearson said.
WorldSong administrator Charles Taylor praised the team’s work.
“Casey and crew did an amazing job helping repair our challenge course prior to summer camp,” he said. “They had a great attitude and also helped us get ready for summer campers by clearing several of our hiking trails. They were a true joy to work with. I am extremely thankful for their generosity and servant’s heart.”
Husband/wife team Matt Cowart, Shocco’s IT director, and Lauren Cowart, guest relations director, led a missions trip to Camp Baldwin in Elberta (near Foley). The team included certified lifeguards and students who did trail work and maintenance around the grounds.
Camp Baldwin director Bradley Rogers, who previously served at Shocco Springs, said the help was much appreciated.
“We were running short staffed, so having two extra lifeguards allowed our staff to rotate and be out of the sun for a little while each day,” he said. “The relief they provided our lifeguards was awesome.”
Shocco RSS team members also helped clear camp trails damaged during Hurricane Sally and helped with other grounds maintenance.
A third team helped at Camp MACOBA, Madison County Baptist Association’s camp in New Market. Led by Russell Klinner, Shocco’s executive director, and his wife, Rebekah, the team cleaned and water-sealed the outside of the camp’s two cabins and cleaned out all the leftover construction debris from the recently built bathhouses.
“These guys hit the ground running and did a really good job with great attitudes,” said MACOBA’s director, Todd Panter. “It was a wonderful experience for us, and we would love to have them come again.”
A few months ago, a team of RSS members assisted Mount Gilead Baptist Church in Dothan break down and store the set elements of their annual “Walk Through Bethlehem.” The team also moved shelves and music for the church music department’s new storage system.
Reflecting on the missions work RSS members completed this year, Butler said giving back is one way Shocco leaders invest in the students who serve on campus and help them see the bigger picture of Christian service.
“It is good for the students to get away from campus, spend time bonding together and get to know some people they might not regularly hang out with,” Butler said. “We want the RSS students to remember that we are all in this together. As co-laborers with the other camps, our goals are to win people for Christ and to grow together in Christ.” (Shocco Springs)