BALD KNOB, Ark. – Churches around the country had to adapt summer plans early in the spring due to the ongoing pandemic. They did not know what the summer would look like, and it was hard to plan for a future that far in advance with the ever-changing climate.
The youth leaders at Central Baptist and New Beginnings Community Church, both in Bald Knob, decided to team up and host their own youth camp. The two campuses are barely a mile apart, so they are no strangers to getting together and hosting events.
Becca Robinson at New Beginnings said it was an easy decision when Jamie McAnelly at Central asked if they wanted to do something together. They started tossing around the idea of a camp in late January to early February.
“Most of the camps around us had already been canceled, and they’d already missed last year. I think both of us could tell there was a big difference in our youth groups with just not being able to meet together and stuff,” Robinson said.
So, they began working. The churches ended up at the John 3:16 Eagle Nest Lodge in Charlotte, Arkansas. A speaker and bands were set, and volunteers were gathered to help lead small groups. In the end, 50 students journeyed to Charlotte for a half week summer camp.
“The first night we were there, you know, everyone is kind of testing the waters,” Robinson said. “It just seemed like they were holding back but the second night, the students really broke loose.”
They had a few salvations that night. One of the students approached McAnelly and said, “There’s a pond behind the cabin and a swimming pool over there – I want to get baptized now. If I get my parents here, can we do this now?”
Neither Robinson nor McAnelly could have predicted what would take place on the following nights. Each night, students would come down to talk about salvation and each night more baptisms would take place. Some chose to wait to be baptized after returning home. In total, there were 12 salvations and one rededication.
“It was crazy how it worked,” Robinson said. “While there were students being baptized, there were also students who were still being prayed with. One night, myself and our lead pastor at New Beginnings, Dennis Pearrow, were praying with a student, and we could hear the cheering from the other students at the pool who were being baptized. It was just awesome to hear the sound of people following in baptism behind us as we were leading a student to Christ.”
Robinson said the students are already ready to do camp again. “It was nice seeing the students excited about something,” she said. “Jamie said his students were already asking about doing it again and so were mine, so we are looking at doing a DNow in the fall to keep the momentum.”
Robinson said 2020 was hard for their students and that it was a good reminder that having a community and ministering to that community is important.