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I went to this camp 35 years ago. This is the place I received the Lord as my Savior. I had never heard the gospel and was invited by a grade school friend. Now I am a Christian counslor at my church and am serving Christ. I am so thrilled this ministry continues. I still have the trophy I won for Bible. Josh was my riding teacher.
Thanks, this truly is a ministry.
Beth K. is a former camper and summer staff member. We asked her a few questions about her staff experiences, and we thought you may find her answers interesting.
When did you first come to camp, and what session did you attend?
The first time I ever came to Phantom Ranch Bible Camp was when I was 12 years old. I was attending “Rock and Ski” week which was a week of rock climbing at Devil’s Lake and skiing on Phantom Lake.
When did you first come to work and what jobs have you done since then?
I first worked at camp when I was 15 as a lifeguard. After my first summer, I knew that camp was going to be a large part of my life from there on out. During my high school summers I mostly counseled and life guarded. When I graduated high school, I was given the opportunity to be a Wilderness Trip Guide for camp. I did this for three years and really formed some lifelong friendships and had some unforgettable adventures. My last summer was probably the most rewarding and life changing experience I have ever had. I was the Female Staff Supervisor and was blessed to be able to work with all of the girls at camp. I am now 22 years old and have worked at camp for 7 summers. I would not have spent all of those months of my life any other way.
What were the circumstances that brought you to camp as a camper and a staff member?
When I first came to camp as a camper I was brought by my best friend, Jessica Koval. We had lived next door to each other since I was born and she had grown up going to camp. She knew that I didn’t know Jesus and that I needed to give my life to Him- so she took me to camp hoping that I would accept Him.
Before Jessica and I were on staff we had spent our summers signing up for as many camp sessions as possible. If there was a session for our age group- we were campers. So, being on staff was the only next logical step. I loved the camp environment and the good friends that I had.
What has been your favorite memories about camp, about being a camper, and being on staff?
This is probably the hardest question you have asked me yet! When I was a camper, my favorite memories are white water rafting with my three closest girlfriends. We barely paddled the whole time and we got stuck on every rock- but I don’t think I have laughed harder since.
I can think of about 500 great memories from being on staff. So I am going to try to narrow it down to two. One would be during my first summer as a Trip Guide. We took a trip guide vacation at the end of summer. We went fishing and hung out in a little town in Minnesota. I loved being with all ten guides and pretty much had the time of my life.
Another one of my favorite times would have to be this past summer when I was the girl’s RA. This experience taught me so much about God’s love for people and really what the purpose of my life is. I loved meeting with all the staff and being in Montana (the girl’s staff cabin). Even though I experienced a countless amount pranks, I sincerely enjoyed leading the staff and felt appreciated by them.
How do you think your life would be different if you had never come to camp.
If I hadn’t gone to camp I probably would have not known Jesus. I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t gone to Phantom. I probably would have filled my life with things that would never satisfy. Simply, I would have lived for this world and not for Jesus. At camp, I discovered love from God and a close community of friends that I still feel very connected to today.
Honestly, I think my life would have been a lot lonelier without camp. In high school, I hung out with “camp people” every weekend. When I come home for break in college I do the same. We are a very connected group of people. Even though staff members have moved across the country; we still have a Phantom Ranch bond. An unexplainable relationship forms between staff and it is very hard to break. I also think I would have missed out on many life experiences if I hadn’t worked at camp. I learned how to share my faith and spend time with Jesus. I learned how to be a leader and to be responsible for a lot of different jobs. I am graduating college in two months and I feel prepared for going out in the ‘real world’ because of my different experiences at camp.
How have you been able to affect other's lives for Christ through your ministry at camp?
Wow, my greatest hope is that God was glorified in everything I did each summer. If I was life guarding, counseling, working in the kitchen, or in the office, I hope campers saw the love of Jesus that has captured my heart. I hope they saw in every staff member how we live our life worthy of God’s calling. I know I made many mistakes each summer and didn’t do everything I should have, but I saw God showing young girls their purpose and identity. I saw Him pursuing campers through our ministry and many come to know Him. I saw Him permanently change lives that were once headed for destruction. God is faithful to those who ask Him to come and I was just able to see Him work.
From your experience what do you think a young girl would get out of camp today?
When I first went to camp as a young girl I noticed something about my counselors and the female staff that I had never seen before, women who knew that they were created to glorify God and who knew their identity in Christ. I think young girls who go to camp find sincere, loving friendships and older women to whom they can model their lives after. Camp is a place where girls can escape from the media that tell them who they should be and focus on who the Lord calls them to be.
What can a young person expect to get out of working at camp?
A young person can expect to make lifelong friendships, be challenged, and learn about what it means to serve the Lord. Honestly, before working at camp I lived a selfish lifestyle and didn’t understand what it meant to work for the Lord. My first couple summers at camp helped me realize that my life is meant to be lived for others and not myself. Also, a young person can definitely expect to have a lot of fun. I have so many memories of great weekends spent with my camp friends. Working at camp helps you realize your giftings and strengths. Camp helped me realize what I want to do with the rest of my life.
Can you relate a time when you shared the gospel or led a girl to Christ?
One of my favorite memories at camp was the first time I led a girl to Christ. I was counseling for the first time with my best friend. We were both nervous but we presented the gospel constantly to our cabin. There was one girl who had never heard about Jesus and one night she asked to give her life to Him. She was elated after I prayed with her; she seemed as though a huge burden had been lifted off of her. Afterwards, Jess and I raced out of our cabin and into the dining hall yelling that a camper had just accepted Jesus. We were so excited and filled with joy. I hope I always remember that joy of salvation that I felt when I was 16.
In your experience is camp a safe place for our campers and staff?
Camp is a second home for me and I have never felt more safe and comfortable in any other place. Walking around camp grounds is one of my favorite things to do (I actually wish I was there right now and not in Texas). It is not only a safe place physically, but the staff cultivate a feeling of comfort and protection.
What skills have you learned being a camper or a staff person?
In high school, camp taught me how to cooperate and work well with others. I learned how to be a leader and have confidence in my abilities. I also think I learned how to love and encourage the people around me. During my college summers, I really learned how to listen and to fully rely on God. During my summer guiding wilderness trips, I was overwhelmed and exhausted at times, but I discovered how to fully let God be my strength. At camp was the first time I really cleaned well, cooked, weedwacked, cut down trees, started a fire, rode a horse, and countless other things. It was a great experience.