June 7, 2019 |
Uplift, a summer camp on Harding’s campus for high school students from seventh grade through graduating seniors, is adding a session called Spark for fourth through sixth graders.
“Uplift is church camp on a college campus,” said Andrew Baker, director of Harding’s Mitchell Center for Leadership and Ministry and Uplift. “It has all the same features that your usual church camp has from classes to recreation to times of worship to getting to know new people, but you are doing that on a college campus.”
Campers come both with youth groups and as individuals to attend classes, hear guest speakers and participate in recreation and entertainment while staying in Harding residence halls and eating in the cafeteria.
In order to include younger campers without adding them to the already diverse Uplift audience, the Mitchell Center for Leadership and Ministry proposed the idea of Spark, a four-day mini Uplift.
“We didn’t want to call it ‘Uplift Junior,’” Baker said. “We wanted it to have its own identity. We went with ‘Spark’ because we are trying to spark some faith. You start singing, ‘It only takes a spark to get a fire going,’ and we thought, ‘That works.’ It communicates to the best of our ability what we hope to happen.”
Other than shortening some extended activities in order to allow the younger kids to move around, the session will be similar to Uplift and will be led by the Uplift staff.
“My favorite part [of Uplift] is that you get to see people grow closer to God and see the reality of faith. The first and foremost goal of Uplift is that students are closer to God when they go home on Sunday than on Saturday when they showed up. The same thing will be true of Spark. We want you to be closer on Sunday than you were on Thursday. We want to give you an experience and introduce you to a bigger community and people who truly have your best interest at heart.”
After looking at the material covered in the last few themes, this primary focus of faith and a camper’s personal spiritual relationship was the concept behind this year’s theme, developed by the Uplift board.
“Spark or Uplift, either one, is about the relationship that you have with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and that which you believe, which is this year’s theme — Believe,” Baker said. “It’s almost apologetics, but you are not going to call it apologetics week. We are going to talk about what we believe, why we believe it and why it matters in a time when everyone wants to question what they believe.”
Sophomore Brianna Allman, a counselor at Uplift this year, applied to be a counselor for the second time this summer because she loved meeting and connecting with the students last summer. As an elementary education major at Harding, she is also excited to see the experience through the eyes of younger students.
“I love how anyone can come to Uplift and feel a sense of belonging,” Allman said “Uplift is extremely welcoming and inviting, and there is truly something for everyone to participate in. It is a wonderful opportunity to grow in your faith, strengthen relationships and have some fun.”Join the Uplift staff for camp this summer on Harding’s campus beginning June 8. After three sessions of Uplift, Spark will take place June 27-30. For more information and for registration information for Spark, visit http://www.upliftonline.com.