By Ed Eddingfield, Senior Pastor, First Southern Baptist Church of Tucson –
Every year, the youth group and leaders from First Southern Baptist Church of Tucson do some form of summer retreat. This year the church and its youth director, Mike Kilgore, tried to do something different, cost effective, excellent, and local.
After seeking the input from several local Southern Baptist churches in the Tucson area, a decision was made that an excellent youth camp needed to attempted. It would be in the gorgeous setting of Southern Pines Baptist Camp, located on Mt. Lemmon at approximately 8,000 feet of elevation.
As the plans started to come together, it became very clear that we didn’t want to make this a camp just for us, but for the community, for other churches who might not be able to travel far to camp, and for small groups that might not be able to pull off camp if they had to do it on their own. After putting pen to paper though, it became very clear that we could do the camp, but we couldn’t provide many of the “big camp experiences” without some help. To make matters worse, some of those committed to come had to withdraw for a variety of legitimate reasons.
Arizona Southern Baptists didn’t stand still though. With the help of Church Life Team Facilitator Eddy Pearson and the Convention Council, a grant funded through the gifts of churches to the Cooperative Program was given to the camp, supplemented by our own association, Catalina Baptist, and camp was on – in full force!
While our “numbers” were not huge, the impact surely was. We had one youth make a first time profession of faith and follow up with baptism! We had several other commitments made, and we learned that next year we can expand this camp to be something much bigger and totally excellent.
Thank you for your giving to the Cooperative Program. As one of the leaders from a partnering church commented, “Thank you for putting together an amazing experience. You guys did an impeccable job!” We say the same thing to our brothers and sisters – Thank you for equipping us to have such an amazing experience. You guys did an impeccable job! Next year … we plan on packing the place out! Thanks for getting us started!