Photo by Nicole Courson
ARKADELPHIA, Ark – Thousands of students from across the state gathered this week on the campus of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia for Super Summer Arkansas, which wraps up Saturday, July 1.
The annual camp, sponsored by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, with funding provided by the Cooperative Program, focuses on evangelism and discipleship for students.
“It’s a great place for kids to have an encounter with Christ and their lives to be changed forever,” said Chris Zluticky, youth pastor at Rocky Branch Baptist Church in Rogers. His wife, Amy, said they had two students attending the camp.
Amy said she was recently asked, why go with only two students?
“Because those two kids are worth it. We had one already go to the altar last night,” Amy said Wednesday. “It’s worth it. Whether you bring one kid or bring 200 kids, it’s worth it for them for their encounter with God.”
Super Summer Arkansas is split into two camps: Super Summer JV, serving campers who have completed sixth through eighth grade, and Super Summer, serving campers who have completed ninth through 12th grade. Both camps have adult leaders who attend one or both camps as adult chaperones. Every camper is assigned a specific college-aged staffer who facilitates small group discussions and recreation.
“There’s a nice variety of things to do. They have rec. They have worship. They have small group time. They keep it competitive. They keep it inclusive for everyone,” said Jessica Thompson, student ministry assistant at First Baptist Church in Rogers. “There is just something about when you’ve got thousands of teenagers who are willingly here worshiping the Lord. Just seeing God move through that and how they’re supporting each other and praying for each other, it’s pretty great.”
Piper Lane, a student from Central Baptist Church in Paragould, said one of her favorite parts of Super Summer is Big Church, the evening worship service.
“You can actually feel the presence of God, and everyone here gets on like a Jesus high and you just want to carry it with you when you go home,” Lane said. “You make a lot of friends and learn how to connect with people.”
Attending Super Summer for the first time were Anna Barr, Josie Schilling, Hadley Hawkins and Teela Bellamy from Trinity Baptist Church in Texarkana.
“It’s hot, but it’s been fun,” Barr said, noting Big Church has been a good worship experience. “Everybody is really into it.”
Bellamy said it is “encouraging to know there are other people who have the same beliefs and want to strive to be like Jesus.”
Elizabeth Redd, a youth leader from First Baptist Church in Cabot, said Super Summer helps students feel more comfortable and be more willing to step out and be courageous and say, “I want to know Jesus. I want that relationship.”
“It is phenomenal to sit back and watch the students have that transformational experience. To be able to see it is a blessing,” Redd said. “There’s just something about coming to Super Summer. Seeing the presence of God move the students to that level is just amazing.”