First Baptist Church in Lenoir City continued a summer worship tradition for area children.
The 16th annual Worship Camp was hosted 8:45 a.m.-noon July 12-16 with a special session lasting until 1:30 p.m. Students from kindergarten to fifth grade were taught to enjoy God through song, dance and art.
Kym Harding, camp director, said participants come from all over the community. The camp differs from Vacation Bible School because students pay to participate, which covers the cost of the camp T-shirt as well as food and crafts.
Harding said this year’s camp had 150 students registered.
“They come in every day,” she said. “They do rotations, so they’ll do dance, sign language. They learn a few songs that they’re going to perform on Friday night. We do a Bible study with them, black lights, and they do some art projects. … It’s throughout the week, so what we do is we have a theme for the week, and this year it’s called ‘Made New,’ which is basically you’re in the potter’s hands and he’s made you perfect even if you get little cracks and dings. He can put you back together again.”
Harding started the camp 16 years ago. After 10 years, she and her husband were called to Mobile, Ala., where they started a similar camp. The two are now back at the helm in Lenoir City.
Randy Powley, camp leader, said activities change each summer. This year, the main focus was sign language, dance, photography and art.
“It really gives kids an opportunity to see that worship is not just standing in church singing a hymn — that there’s lots of ways that you can incorporate worship into your everyday life,” Powley said. “… There’s just a lot of things that people a lot of times don’t recognize as worship, but it is.”
Crews Boals and Noah Morton, both fifth-graders, have been attending annually since kindergarten.
“Coming here every year is really fun and spending time with friends, but I learn something new every year, especially from the devotion that we do every day,” Boals said. “And I like how we have special speakers coming in to tell us more about God from a different perspective. The thing I like most about worship camp is spending time with friends and learning more about God.”
Morton agreed that camp is fun and educational.
“I like worship camp because we get to come here and do all this stuff, and then we get to do the worship performance Friday night,” Morton said. “Every year, since it’s worship, I learn something new. Like this year I learned that I’m going to start reading my Bible more because that was what they’ve been talking about over in the devotion stuff, and just the blacklight and doing the dance. It’s just cool to perform.”
Sawyer Grace Simmons attended kindergarten through fifth grade. A rising freshman at Lenoir City High School next month, she was a camp student leader this year.
“When I was little, me and my sisters, we had the best time,” Simmons said. “It was really fun. Me and friends did it, and we were all just one big family, and we would all just learn, and it was almost like some kids don’t pay attention and just think about the fun part of it, but Kym definitely made it a great experience to learn and understand how the Lord gives us what we need and how he loves us and just how we have to love and grow and worship him.”
Harding said many former campers return as student leaders.
“It’s really cool for me, especially from coming back, that those kids that we invested in as children are now investing in children themselves,” Harding said. “It’s really amazing to watch these teenagers do this. Just spending time out of their summer to come up here and hang out with kids and teach them about the love of Christ is just amazing.”