Karen Yeversky is a member of Zion Covenant Church in Jamestown, New York, and former director of Mission Meadows Bible Camp in Dewittville, New York.
Covenant camping has partnered with Covenant World Mission since the very beginning of its history. In the early years, missionaries volunteered as speakers, medical staff, and counselors in fledgling camp programs throughout the country. When the Middle East Conference (now the Great Lakes Conference) held camping programs at rental facilities in the 1930s, missionary doctor Theodora “Teddy” Johnson served as camp health director while home on furlough from the Congo. Grace Vennberg, a camper in 1938, recalls hearing Dr. Teddy teach from a boat during a Galilean service. “It had a big impact,” says Vennberg, whose interest in missions and camping remains strong.
Records dating back to 1967 show a variety of mission field projects supported by camper offerings. In the early 1990s, the Association of Covenant Camps and Conference Centers (ACCCC) worked to coordinate efforts of camps in the United States and Canada with needs identified by the Department of World Mission, and specifically to direct offerings toward Covenant camp programs in other countries when possible. Since 1993, campers have given more than $950,000 to projects in ten different countries, as well as to camps in Alaska and rural Virginia.
The partnership also includes visits to international camps and staff exchanges. Work trips and advisory visits to camps in Mexico, Russia, and Thailand have been organized. And individual camps have developed partnerships with camps in Chile, Colombia, and Ecuador.
Connecting camps and missions builds the church on the world mission field and here at home. Curt Peterson, executive minister of world mission, wrote in a 2006 report, “Funds raised through the years have been significant in helping our national churches continue making progress toward fulfilling the great commission in their own countries and enabling their churches to grow in fellowship.”
As campers hear firsthand accounts of God’s miraculous work and the world’s great needs, some are compelled to respond. When Phil Landin, Grace Vennberg’s great-nephew, was in junior high, he was struck by a missionary’s description of a malnourished child. “It was the first time missions became real to me and it triggered a desire to do ministry,” he says. Now a senior at North Park University, Landin plans to pursue a career in world missions. He exemplifies the impact of what happens when camping and world missions join together to do God’s work.