In January, it seemed like it might be an unusual year for WorldSong Missions Place, Cook Springs, to celebrate turning 30.
Candace McIntosh, executive director of Alabama Woman’s Missionary Union, said she and other camp leadership turned the corner into 2021 wondering if Missions Adventure Camp would return to normal — they missed completely hosting it in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But after discussion, they decided to not risk ending up with an empty camp two summers in a row, McIntosh explained.
“The dream that came out of those conversations was that we would take WorldSong to the churches,” she said.
‘Be the voice’
And she didn’t mean WorldSong the place, though she loves it. She meant the mission — the gospel and “helping to train up hearts who understand that we as believers have to be the voice that shares the gospel, whether it’s in Alabama, the United States or the world,” McIntosh said.
With that in mind, leaders brought together the first WorldSong Travel Team, a group of six summer staffers.
McIntosh and Kaley Stephens, team leader for the summer, sketched out a plan to hold a day camp in as many churches around the state as possible. In the end, the response was so positive they booked up completely, having to point interested groups to other churches serving as host sites, McIntosh said.
And over the course of the summer, from Florence to Mobile, 603 children participated in day camps at 14 locations — 12 churches and two Baptist associations.
Stella McWhorter, a member of the Travel Team, said they were able to share the gospel all over Alabama through the day camps.
The experience also made an impact on team members. As someone who has been part of WorldSong since she was a young girl, McWhorter noted the camp has been “instrumental in the development of my faith and my leadership capabilities,” including this summer.
‘Better servant for Christ’
“Serving at WorldSong has made me become a better servant for Christ,” she said.
Though the setup took the camps away from physically being at WorldSong, McIntosh noted the summer accomplished a range of good things.
“It helped us tell people who we are and what we do with missions adventure camping,” she explained. “The camps offered children opportunities to hear from missionaries and learn about other cultures and peoples. It broadens their biblical worldview. With the Travel Team, we were able to take this to children who have never had this kind of experience with missions camping.”
It also was a springboard for Missions Adventure Camp 2022, which will be back onsite at WorldSong, McIntosh said.
But this summer, the absence of normal camps also allowed WorldSong to successfully rent out space to church groups. Some were there for retreats, and others used it as housing while they did missions work in the Birmingham area.
“That happened throughout the summer and is continuing,” said McIntosh, noting they already have some bookings for the fall. “We opened up this option, and God has just kept bringing people to us.”
Charles Taylor, who became camp administrator June 1, said a highlight of the summer for him was seeing five students baptized in July in the pool at WorldSong. He said camp leadership’s hope is that God would continue to use WorldSong in a variety of ways to further His mission.
“We want everything there to be excellent,” Taylor said. “We want to prayerfully always be looking for ways to be in ministry for God and for the WMU of Alabama.”
This summer WorldSong also gained Kyle Winningham as operations manager and Cliff Parker as property manager.
“God brought us a team of gentlemen who have been awesome and just jumped in and been wonderful,” McIntosh said.
For more information, visit worldsongretreat.org.