By Johanna Moore, member of Mountain View Baptist Church, Tucson –
When teenagers from 35 Arizona churches converge on a college campus, you know craziness is about to ensue.
And I mean this in the best possible way.
This year’s Zona Camp brought together about 1,100 students, leaders and staff on Biola University’s California campus Sunday, June 10, to Friday, June 15, for a week of worship, Bible study, games, food and late nights.
Students spent the week connecting with peers, unplugging from problems at home and — hopefully — encountering God. That’s what this whole camp is built to do. That’s the kind of retreat the Cooperative Program supports.
I’ve attended Zona as a student, staffer and now as a leader with Mountain View Baptist Church in Tucson. I’ve seen firsthand how this camp topples students’ carefully constructed walls to enable them to hear from God in a deeply personal way.
Students spent a good chunk of their day in one of four tracks — Zona Experience, Impact, Worship Catalyst or Mission Life. Those in Zona Experience spent time in Bible study and taking classes on hot topics. Impact students learned about leadership, worldview and personal giftings. In Worship Catalyst, students learned to play in a band or manage tech and sound, preparing for a worship service at the end of the week. And those in Mission Life went into the community to serve with local organizations.
This year, camp revolved around the theme “Set Apart,” based on verses in 1 Peter 1:13-16. We learned about how the holiness of God, the work of Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in believers prompts holiness in our own lives. Zona Camp reported 86 students accepted Christ for the first time, 125 rededicated their lives, 74 answered calls to ministry and missions and 367 responded in some way to God’s movement in their lives.
It’s profound stuff. But also a ton of fun.
My own church took 23 students to Zona. We had one accept salvation, a few rededicate their lives and a handful stand up to admit a call to serve God in some capacity. There were many tears, but even more laughs. The group bonded deeply — and then used their newfound unity to attempt to eat all of the Lucky Charms in the cafeteria one morning. They just about succeeded.
That is the essence of Zona. One moment you’re dealing with deep soul stuff and the whispers of God. And then the next you’re playing Twister, rubbing shoulders with a bunch of teenagers, trying to achieve “left foot yellow,” and you experience Jesus’ prayer for believers to be one up close and personal.