By Andy Kanengiser, Mississippi College Communications
CLINTON, Miss. – Antioch Baptist Church kids and parents enjoyed every mile of the journey to a FUGE Christian camp at Mississippi College.
Worship services, quiet moments for Bible study, sports, fellowship time and much more were a real blessing for the church delegation from Farmerville, Louisiana.
The annual June trip to the 5,000-student Baptist-affiliated university in Clinton was the sixth for parent chaperones like David C. Byrnes. He calls it his best one yet.
“We love coming to Mississippi College because of its location and the facilities are great,’’ Byrnes says. “The camp pastor was awesome and we had two kids get saved.’’
Seventeen children and seven parents were part of this summer’s contingent from Antioch Baptist Church.
Well-known for its Louisiana Watermelon Festival in late July and fun adventures to go fishing, boating and swimming at D’Arbonne State Park, Farmerville is sandwiched between Monroe and Ruston.
So, the trip for the Louisiana church delegation is a quick two-hour and 15-minute ride on I-20 to the Clinton, Miss. campus.
Once they get off the bus, they see a Clinton campus that’s steeped in history.
Founded in 1826, Mississippi College remains the nation’s second oldest Baptist college and the oldest institution of higher learning in the Magnolia State.
The landmark Provine Chapel opened in 1860 and was once used as a hospital for the wounded Civil War troops of Union General Ulysses S. Grant.
While Byrnes and several other chaperones made the trek for several years to MC for the Southern Baptist Convention’s FUGE camp, it was the first visit for Kevin Brantley. He traveled with his three sons.
He enjoyed the worship and preaching and really everything else about the FUGE camp at MC.
“Kevin said the camp was unbelievable,’’ Byrnes said. “He was closer to God right now than he’s ever been.’’
This year’s number of Mississippi College summer campers in June and July will exceed 6,000 boys and girls. That includes the blitz of Christian camps plus those for sports like football, basketball, volleyball, cheerleading and soccer.
Every year, there are scores of Baptist churches represented from across the Bayou State. MC continuing education director Ken Gilliam, who oversees the camps, says the largest number of Baptist church campers outside Mississippi come from Louisiana.
Then, it’s Alabama and Texas, in that order.
“The Louisiana children come from all over – from New Orleans, Shreveport, Bastrop, Monroe, and Alexandria,’’ Gilliam says.
Typically many of the kids from Louisiana come sporting the hats, T-shirts and other gear from LSU, especially since the Tigers were playing in the College World Series in Omaha.
It can get noisy at times during worship services at Swor Auditorium led by the contemporary Christian band, Yeshua’s Brand, from Huntsville, Ala. And the same is true during meals served at the cafeteria.
For children from Louisiana and a dozen other states, many life-changing moments occur while they learn God’s word.
It makes summer camp at Mississippi College an impactful experience.
And a few years some of the “graduates’’ from these SBC summer camps may return to the Clinton campus to become students at Mississippi College.