May 1, 2024

Sacred Space

Each time I make that left turn onto our camp property and pass the welcome sign that bears our name, I am immediately reminded that I am entering holy ground.

It’s not because of the activities we offer, or the beautiful buildings that litter the campus, but wholly because of the presence of the Holy Spirit moving in the lives of everyone who finds themselves here. Akita has been and will continue to be a beloved space for our campers, but it has also been a transformative haven for the passionate and dedicated staff that serve our kids. Each summer, young adults from diverse backgrounds converge at Camp Akita, drawn by a shared commitment to create a space where lifelong bonds can be formed and encounters with Jesus can be experienced--and the impact has been profound. 

For the staff, their summer camp journey is often more than just a summer job; it becomes a catalyst for their personal and spiritual development. Through service, they can cultivate resilience, empathy, and leadership skills while forging lasting friendships. Camp Akita has become a sacred space where their hearts are molded, their spirits are lifted, and their lives are forever impacted by the wonder-working power of Jesus. 

Now, I could tell you more, but you should hear it from them. Our former programming director, Devaney Ross, shares below how camp has impacted her: 

“At Camp Akita, I feel like it is almost impossible to leave without friendships and memories that last a lifetime. In my five years of working at Camp Akita, one impactful memory that comes to mind took place the first year I worked at Camp Akita. It was the Friday night of Teen Week, which has remained my favorite part of the week. When I heard the true and genuine worship coming from those teens, it was such a beautiful sight to see it moved me to tears. Just to see how much God had moved throughout the week, to be with those kids from Sunday when they arrived and to see how much they love to worship God was honestly so incredible. Coming into this experience, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I wasn’t from the area and had only been to a summer camp once (and honestly, didn’t love it), so I didn’t know what to expect out of this summer. But God surprised me in so many ways, he placed people in my life that have become family, and I was able to grow and learn so much from that experience; but hearing those kids sing was so much more than just an experience, it reintroduced me to what true worship felt like. And I will never forget that feeling. Working at camp is so fulfilling in so many ways, but two things that always kept me coming back to Camp Akita was the family that I gained, and the God encounters that I experienced. “ 

Stacey DePluzer is the associate youth director for the Illinois Conference.   

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