Twenty Rome youngsters recently got the chance to learn more about mission work and helping others while getting some hands-on experience at the same time.
A group of students from Rome First Baptist Church recently traveled to Greenville, South Carolina for Passport Camp, a 6-day, 5-night creative discipleship camp that allows students to pursue their specific creative interests while also giving them the opportunity to sign up for mission service.
John Uldrick is the minister of students and missions at First Baptist Church. He’s been at FBC for about 14 years and said they have a thriving youth ministry that emphasizes serving others here in the community and farther away.
“The church’s mission statement is to seek the heart of Christ and serve as the hands of Christ,” he said. “We do hands-on missions through our student mission most every summer. Those missions are either local missions, regional missions or international missions.”
“We usually do something called March Mission Madness and we’ve also hosted several times so that others might come into our community and serve in Rome,” he added. “But this year we went to a youth camp called Passport. We were there from June 18 to July 3.”
The students stayed on the campus of Furman University and were among 200 other campers from several other states including Kentucky, North Carolina and Alabama. Uldrick said anywhere from 12 to 16 other churches participated.
Campers enjoy opening celebrations, play games, sing songs and participate in various other creative activities. They also attend Bible student groups, play group-building games, learn about missions education and most importantly, learn about how they as a community, can serve others.
They also participate in “Camper’s Rotations,” Uldrick said, one of which is hands-on service.
This year, Uldrick said, Passport partnered with an organization called Maggie’s School, a resale store supporting schools in Kenya and Cambodia.
Hands-on mission work some campers chose to do, was helping to renovate a home that would be used as an Airbnb to raise money for Maggie’s School.
“They drove up to a small community where the house was located,” Uldrick said. “And the kids helped to rip out mason boards, they took out some cabinets and then they started painting the rooms.”
He said the Rome campers were thrilled by the work and appreciated its significance in changing the lives of others.
“It was the highlight of camp for our group,” he said. “To be able to serve others in such a hands-on way was something they really wanted to do. First Baptist has always been a leader in Christian service in our community. These kids know it well and it resonated with them.”
Fourteen-year-old Aaron Lewis was one of the campers from Rome and said the entire experience was fun and he learned a great deal from his time at camp.
“I learned a lot of things such as sometimes you need to be looking for God,” he said. “There are so many distractions in life that can get in the way of that. You need to look.”
Lewis said his work renovating a house as part of the camp’s activities was the high point of the trip for him.
“Before we got in there it wasn’t in the best shape,” he said. “You could tell it needed a lot of work. We had to tear down walls, carry supplies in and out of the house, took out nails, sanded and painted.
“It was hard work,” he added. “One thing I did was paint the walls in a room and as you might expect there was no air conditioning. It got pretty hot in there but it was worth it because it warms my heart to know that I’m doing something to help the cause. And I was with my all my friends and we were doing really good work.”
Uldrick said all aspects of the camp were interesting and educational for the Rome teens, but in particular he’s convinced that they came away from the experience with a greater appreciation for serving others.
“One of the things the camp curriculum asked the kids to do was to think about how they can leave camp and continue to partner with other people and organizations in their communities to serve others,” Uldrick said. “It taught them that we are to be participants in God’s story and encouraged them to find out how they can apply what we learned at camp to their own schools and communities.”