Big Stuf Camp

A few Sundays ago on June 25th at 5:00 in the morning thirteen students and two crazy adults loaded up into a fifteen passenger van to trek the 1,166 miles to Big Stuf Camp in Panama City Beach, Florida. What started as a sleepover in the van turned into, as one student put it, “life changing for a bunch of us.”

Big Stuf Camp is an experience like no other. Pulling up to the resort, being greeted by interns (including one who looked like Josh Gad!), and feeling the 97° heat, only begins to prepare you for the week-long adventure that you’ve signed yourself up for. Our first session in the “Big Room” gave us an idea of how the rest of the week would go. Surrounded by 1,400 teenagers dancing and singing was so energizing and exciting.

Big Stuf put together an incredible program! Between the worship, talks, small groups, and quiet times, our group was able to learn more about Jesus, his desire for our lives and his role in our our faith journeys. Another student put it this way, “Big Stuf opened my eyes to what I’m supposed to do next. I found the next step that I’m taking in my faith journey.”

Over the course of the week, our students were able to open up about their lives during small groups, worship God in a community of at least a thousand believers, spend quality time doing devotionals and quiet time, and listen to relevant lessons about their lives. One of our students shared on Facebook, “God chose us and God LOVES us unconditionally no matter our sin or how broken we are. I am free from sin and have found forever peace in my father.”

Some of the many things we learned about included how to seek after God’s plan for our lives, what it means for God to be our Father, how we can live out our faith in our everyday lives, and how we can be the example of Christ for other people.

“This trip definitely opened my eyes to my filters and the ways I make decisions and it definitely changed my life and it allowed me to see who I want to be and how to get there with God guiding me” said a student about the talks.

Another shared “After one of the sermons while we were praying I just felt like God was right there, sitting there next to me, and I felt like he was listening. Like he was in the room and listening to everyone’s prayers.”

During our free times we got to spend some quality time in the gulf and at the pool! We also got to snack on some southern food (biscuits and gravy!), meet new people from churches all over the country (mostly the south though), hang out with one another, and shop at the Big Stuf store.

We tried (and failed) to make a giant water slide into the ocean. We also decided to thank the interns with gift cards to Chick-Fil-A.

On the way home we stopped to spend a day on Hilton Head Island. We got to eat at some of Jonathan’s favorite restaurants, visit a petting zoo, talk a walk on the beach, and rest. (We even watched Moana). After 157 hours together, arriving back in Paoli was a bit bittersweet.

We loved our trip and we are so excited to see what will come of our group because of our experiences together at Big Stuf. We started the trip off as youth group friends and we ended it as family. If you know someone who went on the trip, we encourage you to ask them about it! So thank YOU Good Sam family… your prayers were felt! Your donations made this possible! We could not have done this without the support from our church family!