By Katie Whitmarsh, Elizabeth Snyder, Amelia High, and Addie Winfrey, for Focus
DENVER, Pa. – Camp Conquest, a summer camp outside of Denver, is a place of growth and anticipation for Victor Correa, a youth ministry major at LBC.
Correa touches lives and creates fun experiences every summer through teaching sportsmanship. Teaching gives him experience for his major. Working at camp also forces him to prioritize spending time with God in the midst of a busy camp schedule.
Correa first heard about Camp Conquest at his church after seeing a stray brochure on the pastor’s desk. He connected with the program director and began his first steps to involvement in Camp Conquest’s ministry.
“I was so fired up,” Correa said. He could not wait to begin working with the kids at camp.
“Everyone’s a counselor, so everyone is ministering to the kids,” he said. “But my role [at camp] apart from that… is actually the rifles director. What I do is to try to maintain the safety of the range and try to keep the guns in order, and we’re also teaching the kids not only about safety—although safety is a big part of it—but also it’s about incorporating target sports with the Bible.”
Correa said connecting the idea of the “target” is an important one that he refers to often when connecting with kids at Camp Conquest. The lesson, he said, is that just like kids practice to shoot at the target, they have to practice to hit the target when they are pursuing God and a godly life. The more they understand the Bible, the easier it will be to hit the target; just like the more they understand the mechanics of shooting, the easier it is to hit a paper target.
How many kids usually come to camp? The director of Camp Conquest, Michael Gelhert, estimates around one hundred overnight campers and fifty day-campers, campers who participate in all activities except bedtime. A total of roughly one hundred and fifty students trek through Correa’s rifle range in a camp week.
“They expect a lot of fun,” Gelhert said. “They’re going to be taken out of their element a little bit, because we sing crazy songs, we do things together, we pray before and after, we do a whole bunch of things back to back to back.”
There is no room in Camp Conquest’s schedule for anything but fun and new experiences. However, camp is about more than fun and games and stretching creatively.
“At the end of camp, that’s the time [we] really say, ‘hey, how’s your faith, and how’s your heart?’” Correa said. “I really appreciate that.”
Gelhert agrees, remarking that the goal is always to send the camper home a little bit more “heart-healthy” than they were before.
“We have many campers that have broken households and they go home and share to their parents about God, and their parents see something different in something they do or act upon,” Gelhert said. “And we [hear from] their parents about how their behavior is better.”
Camp impacts more than the campers Correa said. It has been good for his personal growth, too.
“Camp has really changed me, in a way, to be a better person,” Correa said. “You can work with the kids, and you can get ‘changed’ that way, which is awesome, but there is a way [in which] the staff coaches you and makes sure that you’re doing okay too.”
Correa and Gelhert work hard at Camp Conquest to make sure that they and their campers are practicing hitting all of their targets, physically and spiritually.
Image taken by reporters.