Mission camp at Laurel Ridge is an opportunity for young Moravians to have a hands-on mission experience close to home. Youth groups from North Carolina and Florida spend a week in the mountains near Laurel Ridge doing various jobs for members of the community. Through four weeks of mission camp, over 200 participants from 12 churches completed tasks at over 20 homes.
The program has been going on for 15 years and has had a deep impact on the community. Mission Camp leaders, Austin Bouge, Erika Bouge, and Rachel Smith search a 50 mile radius around Laurel Ridge looking for mission sites, sometimes going as far as Tennessee. Homeowners are usually low income or wheelchair-bound in need of home repairs. Most projects involve building decks and ramps, landscaping, and painting, however groups have also expanded into doing minor electrical work and drywalling.
Mission camp is fortunate to have many tools and supplies on hand, but many youth group leaders love bringing their own. The first day of camp includes tool safety training and campers are encouraged to try using tools they may not have experience with.
The program has such an impact on the community, local building supply store, Blevins, offers a special discount to the camp, which is especially helpful for the larger deck and ramp building projects.
In addition to the mission work done during the day, campers gather for an evening program. This year’s program centered around water and the woman at the well. The word ‘water’ being an acronym for each day’s topic.
W – What are the Things that divide us?
A – Are there things that get between me and God?
T – There is a way to break down these barriers.
E – Everyone is well-come to receive this gift
R – Receiving the gift is good, but sharing it is even better.
On the last night of the week, homeowners are invited for dinner with the campers and many even stay for program. I was very fortunate to present for all four weeks of mission camp and I absolutely loved my time there. I cannot thank the mission and camp staff enough for their hospitality and friendship.
The mission camp experience is one that has impacted hundreds of young people since it began and continues to impact the youth of Winston-Salem today. It is the hope of the BWM that this program can expand into other camps in the Northern Province of the Moravian Church.