CABOT, Ark. – Summer 2020 was a summer like no other, and with the ongoing pandemic, it’s looking as if 2021 might be following the same route. However, Arkansas Baptist churches stepped up in providing safe and unique ways to stay connected with their students and ministries – First Baptist Cabot was one of those.
With a whole year now to prep and plan for what might come, Robert José, First Cabot’s youth pastor, is looking forward to hosting his hometown camp again this year.
“We actually had close to 80% of our members participate, maybe closer to 85%, so we had a very well-attended camp,” he said. “Knowing our students were hungry and wanted to engage God in that type of environment was really cool.”
The success of the camp wasn’t about numbers though, it was about watching students grow and invest in their faith and continuing that momentum into the coming school year.
“We’re still reaping the benefits of that camp,” José said. “We didn’t know what the school year was going to look like…so as we delayed Wednesday nights and small groups, it gave us momentum going into those when we finally were able to start them.”
One thing he noted was that it hasn’t been so much of what they’ve seen more than what they haven’t seen and by that he meant they haven’t seen the drop-off of students like they expected. The big fear for many was that as churches remained closed and virtual, students would begin to get bored or lose hope.
“What we’ve not seen leading into the fall and now spring semesters is the mass exodus,” he said. “So I think that’s been the big win of it [the camp]. We didn’t see a hundred missionaries come out of our camp, not that we didn’t pray for that because that would be cool, but we’ve seen them challenged to be the missionaries in their schools and they recognize the need for them to be plugged-in.”
Although other summer plans are not off the table for First Cabot youth, the hometown camp will happen again no matter what.
Much of what he did last summer will be used again this year, with a few changes here and there, since so much success was seen with it. The camp will probably happen a few weeks before school starts. Overnight stays will still not be an option, however, José noted that breaking the two groups up – having a few days for junior high students and a few days for senior high students in one week was exhausting. So, combining the two groups and only having a 3-day event will be helpful and will also keep them connected with each other more.
“It’ll be challenging,” he said. “It’ll be a ride that we’re going to get on and see where God takes us and hope and pray that we honor Him in all that we do.”
To read more of what First Cabot did last year, click here.