By Hannah Fleming, Message Staff Writer
PINEVILLE – The Centri Kid Camp has been reaching middle schoolers nationwide for the past 13 years and at Louisiana College for the last two.
And the popular camp is growing.
“Centri Kid has grown in both numbers and space since it began back in 2001,” said Ellie Doom, assistant director for the camp at Louisiana College for the past two years and a member of the Centri Kid staff for the past five years.
“It has especially grown here at Louisiana College,” said Doom. “Last year, we did two weeks totaling 450 kids and this year it was around 700. It has been steadily growing.”
Louisiana College hosted one of the eight teams during the weeks of July 16-19 and July 22-25. As a matter of fact, LC is the only location in Louisiana that holds a Centri Kid camp. Why?
“Because one of the main goals and foundations of the camp is that everything be rooted in the scriptures,” said Doom.
During the week the kids are constantly taught about Christ through activities, worship and bible studies.
In the morning the day starts with a bible study and recreation. More bible studies and mini games and activities are held in the afternoon as well as track times that include volleyball, tennis, archery, softball, etc.
Track times also include activities such as kitchen chaos, art studio, creative dance, sign language, weird science track, a ‘no boys’ allowed track and the new build it track this year.
“Throughout the day we connect everything they do to that and the gospel, through games and track times,” said Doom. “In our parties we also connect things to the gospel and missions.”
Every day leaders teach the kids a new key point and it carries through with them all day. During the evening there is a time of worship that helps the campers to expand on what they’ve learned and is followed by a group time with their churches to help tie it all in.
Jerry Wooley pastored the kids during the week. He has served as the Vacation Bible School Ministry Specialist for Lifeway. This is Wooley’s fourth year speaking at Centri Kid and his first at LC.
“Our hope is the life we are living in front of these kids is portraying Christ and our willingness to give our time and give our life to be here and make it special for them,” said Wooley.
The theme of this year’s camp was “Reset: God Redeems,” which Wooley emphasized and reinforced nightly during his sermons.
“I hope they get that no matter what we have done in our lives there is the opportunity to start over,” said Wooley, “and God will reset our live and redeem us.”
Sharing throughout the week, Wooley emphasized that God reaches down from heaven and rescues his people his people from the captivity of sin. He also reconciles through Jesus and restores His people for a purpose.
“Part of the joy of why we do what we do is to give kids the opportunity to have a relationship with God,” said Wooley, “because we know that after they pass sixth grade their chances of connecting with God are going to get harder and harder.”
During both weeks there were seven public professions of faith. There were also children who displayed an interest to delve deeper into the gospel. Wooley said he thought the impact on the campers would carry over even after the camp was finished.
“We hear many stories of kids making professions of faith on the way back home or even in their churches,” said Wooley. “We’ve heard some amazing stories of kids asking deep questions, questions you would never think of a kid asking. It has really opened up a lot of hearts and minds and questions that are really great. That’s a lot of what we do here.”
Doom has also seen the camp make a difference.
“We’ve seen kids’ lives completely change,” said Doom. “We’ve also seen Him growing kids who are already Christians.”
The children are not the only ones who got a chance to hear God during the camp. The leaders, directors, and staff were also included in the program.
“This week I’ve realized the older I get the more I realize the less I know about God’s will,” said Wooley. “When we think of it with the mind like a child it’s totally different.”
“He’s taught me that He’s planned for all of this to happen, to share His love to the campers is why we are here,” said Doom. “It’s a humbling and awe inspiring experience this year.”