Waiting on the bus for my first trip to Surge at Southwind, I had no idea what to expect. My excitement and anticipation for the weekend was shared by many of the 6th grade students I lead, some who had never spent more than one night away from home. One of those first-timers took a seat next to me, neither of us knowing how great of an impact the weekend would have on each of our lives.
Within minutes of getting to camp, the feeling of community was palpable. Meals are served family-style in a hall filled with large communal tables, inviting interaction. Between mouthfuls of pizza during dinner, I got to hear about their recent sports achievements, adjusting to the multiple classes, and even managing a stubborn locker. While those chats continued throughout the weekend, it was not long before God showed up, and, along with him, incredible, meaningful conversations.
During the first night of worship, all those young voices helped bring his gentle presence to that gathering room. The weekend’s theme was identity, and the speaker’s first talk focused on who we truly are as opposed to what we to do. While the message proffered examples relevant to the students around me (popularity, success in sports/academics), I could not help but reflect on the times I had put so much weight on my education and career as a measure of my worth. It was then that I realized that this weekend would be as much for my growth in my walk as it would be for the students.
After some time familiarizing ourselves with the camp’s amenities, the 6th graders got together for some Cabin Time to discuss that night’s first talk. As I listened to the students give their views on Genesis 1:27, I realized that in being made in God’s image we have been imputed with God’s desire for relationship and community. Despite all the activity of the day, these 6th graders were engaged, asking complex questions, truly wanting to learn more about God’s word and its impact on our lives. As I curled up into my bunk that first night, my prayers were full of gratitude for what God had already done.
Before I knew it, I was again waiting on the bus to head back to Summit. Me along with my crew of 6th graders had braved The Screamer (essentially a giant swing), raced down The Hurricane pool slide, and played whiffle ball under the stadium lights. No activity, however, could trumped the primary purpose of Surge at Southwind: that the message of the gospel be delivered to each and every one of our students.
That same first-timer who sat next to me on the way to camp joined me again on the way home. He was clutching a Bible embossed with his mother’s name—she had loaned it to him for the trip. He excitedly told me how he could not wait to get his very own. I had no doubt his life, as well as mine, had been marked by this trip.
Omar Perez is a partner at Summit who has been attending church here since 2014. He is a civil litigation attorney and started serving in Summit Student Ministries in the beginning of 2016. He is also a Summit Connect group leader.