As we close out another year, it is so encouraging to look back and remember where we have seen God show up this past year. Our mission at Camp Pondo is to create a unique space to encounter Jesus. Our job is simply to create the space, and when we do, Jesus always shows up. And when Jesus shows up, people find purpose, they find salvation, they find healing, and they find love. These encounters with Jesus plant seeds, seeds that stay with them and often change the trajectory of their lives.

But we don’t always get to hear the stories of impact, what is happing in individual lives, and the effect Camp has on youth groups going home. So in celebration of a year of God pouring our a double portion of His presence on us, and us stepping into a new season of pressing into the more with our campaign, Let’s Go, we have asked staffers, speakers, youth leaders, and campers to share their stories with us, stories when God showed up, stories of when some aspect of the Gospel clicked for the first time, stories of answered prayers, and stories of the ongoing impact of camp after going home.

Camp Pondo is not the hero of these stories, God is. We are simply a space, one of many, living out our mission to hold the door open to His presence. And so, we are exited to share with you several stories throughout the reminder of this year.

To begin, we have a series of stories shared with us from a Jr. High Youth Pastor about their young students stepping deeper into their faith this past Summer at camp.

We hope you find these stories as encouraging as we did!

“Camp was a great experience for my students for many reasons. We went to Jr. High Week specifically because I was wanting to create an environment for my Jr. High students where they felt comfortable and like they belonged, and Pondo exceeded my expectations.

One way we saw this expressed was when one of our eleven year old students shared how for the first time she felt so free to worship Jesus with her whole heart, and to express herself fully with raised hands. She felt free to worship how she wanted to and that she was valued in the body of Christ. Oftentimes in a church setting, she felt like, “if I really worship, people will think I’m ridiculous, or just a kid.” Camp allowed her to feel like a whole person in the Body of Christ. I appreciate the empowerment she felt and that God gave her the freedom to worship while at Camp.

We also had another eleven year old student who was raised in a christian family and has gone to church his whole life, but this year at camp was the first time he was on his own in a lot of ways. He accepted Christ at camp this year, feeling for the first time that he could make this personal decision on his own away from the pressures of what others thought or wanted him to do. He expressed that he wanted everything that Jesus has to offer and that he wants to roar the name of Christ with his life.

Another student who came with our group to camp this year was a 12 year old girl who accepted Christ. She was coming from a vastly different environment. Her parents do not go to church, her grandparents will bring her occasionally, but going to church is not something that is pushed or even encouraged in her home. But even at her young age, since coming to camp, we have seen her start to make her faith her own. Lately we have seen a spark in her for reading Scripture and being excited to read it on her own. It is so moving to watch this twelve year old girl growing a very real and personal relationship with Jesus.”

Isn’t that amazing! Lives as young as 11 and 12 years old changed by encounters with God that will stay with them forever. This is why we do what we do. Camp Matters. A space away from the everyday, is often just what is needed to have a moment with God that will impact the rest of their life. We love partnering with the many churches who come to our camp. We love getting to be a part of their growing ministries, and to be a space for them to bond as a group and pour into each other with the uninterrupted time that camp provides.

The reality is we wouldn’t be able to provide that kind of camp experience each season if it weren’t for the Gospel Champions that have come alongside us through prayer and financial giving to make it possible for us to keep our prices as low as possible and all inclusive. If you are interested in partnering with us in our mission of creating space for people to encounter Jesus, CLICK HERE to learn more!

We have many more stories that we are excited to share in the coming weeks, so stay tuned! If you have a stories from Pondo, a moment where you or one of your students had an encounter with Jesus, we would love to hear it! We welcome you to share you story by clicking here!

We just want to give God all the praise as we remember all he has done!