The cost of camp should not be what keeps a child from having a Christian camp experience. That is the conviction of Little River Baptist Association Director of Missions Mike Rust and a team of caring leaders who organize the annual, local missions experience known as Camp Cadiz.
Camp Cadiz started four years ago from a prayer effort to find a more affordable way to do a youth work/camp experience. A former youth leader, Jason Strickland, and Associational Youth Director Carl Heckman worked together with other leaders to produce a local project modeled after the highly successful World Changers and Kentucky Changers events.
Camp Cadiz is a ministry event where students in middle and high school work on local service projects and share in a spiritual, gospel-centered camp experience.
In 2014, 70 youth from 14 churches worked together with 35 adult volunteers. The energetic group completed 56 projects in the Trigg County area. Projects included wheelchair ramps, porch construction, hot meals prepared and delivered to the elderly, and a bathroom remodeling.
When Camp Cadiz is in full swing, the local community is able to observe an army of student and adult workers dressed in green T-shirts with the logo, “Peculiar for Christ”—a reference to 2 Peter 2:9—as they go about the business of serving Jesus by serving others. The adults and students are supported by area businesses, local churches, and dozens of volunteers who participate in one way or another.
The structure for the 2014 Camp Cadiz experience requires participating students to stay in separate quarters for boys and girls in the Christian Life Center of Liberty Point Baptist Church.
They have meals together, and their day starts with a morning devotional. The students and adults put in a full, eight-hour work day. They wrap up with a group worship experience. Local churches provide the meals for all involved.
Organizers of Camp Cadiz understand that a volunteer mission experience can serve to catapult the disciple of Christ to a new level of commitment and obedience to Jesus. Other results of Camp Cadiz have included salvations, deeper commitment to Christ, a greater understanding of the needs that exist in the community, and a greater awareness of the ministries of local Baptist churches.
But above all, DOM Mike Rust said, “Jesus is glorified by the love, participation and compassion shown throughout the week.”
Camp Cadiz is led and organized by church leaders. The leadership team consists of Carl Heckman, deacon at Cadiz Baptist, Marc Frye, youth leader at New Hope Baptist, Robert Papajeski, youth minister at Cadiz Baptist, along with the support of Rust and many church volunteers.
DOM Rust said that one of the most fun things for him is to watch the adults teach the youth how to use power tools and practice basic construction skills. When the week is completed, relationships have been built between students, adult volunteers, church leaders and community homeowners that will continue for years to come.
One young lady who was involved in this past summer’s event was dissatisfied early in the week because she was “stuck” leading a VBS event, while all of her friends were on construction crews. When the day was done, she would hear of the hard work that the others did, while her VBS effort did not seem as exciting. She even tried to have herself removed from the VBS team and reassigned to a construction crew.
The next day, at the VBS site, the high school girl led a 14-year-old girl to faith in Christ. She was then able to see God’s hand at work in her assignment.
Rust, with tears in his eyes, observed, “If we can make a difference with one person then the hundreds of hours and dollars spent are absolutely worth it.” (WR)
Todd Gray, Regional Consultant, West Kentucky Region