For more information, visit www.illuminatecamp.com.
Reed Bass stood along Sunset Avenue holding up a sign as cars and trucks zoomed up and down the street.
The 13-year-old’s goal was to get drivers to visit Piggly Wiggly to make contributions for a local food drive. It was one of several missions of Illuminate Camp, a week-long mission project, which included hundreds of youths like Reed.
“It’s very inspiring and it’s just fun for children like me because we learn a lot on things about God,” Reed said. “It’s just inspiring.”
While raising the sign that said “Donations change a life,” smiled.
“It makes me feel better about myself,” Reed said. “It doesn’t just make me happy, it makes God happy.”
Camp Illuminate wrapped up another successful summer session for the program which began Sunday. Through the program, created in 2008, local students completed missions to help people in the community. Along with the food drive, some of the other work included building wheelchair ramps, teaching at vacation Bible school locations, cleaning yards, making dresses for girls overseas and collecting school supplies. After the work, the students returned to Clinton Community Church, ate supper, and attended worship services, which were open for the public.
Enlighten The World Ministries, a crisis center and mobile food pantry, partnered with Illuminate for the food drive. The food collected was distributed at the Clinton Community Church. Pastor Thom Miles, director of the Enlighten The World Ministries, said it’s the organization’s third year helping Camp Illuminate with the food drive.
“I love it,” he said regarding the mission and the work of the young people. Miles said. “The kids seem to really get a lot out of it. They are serving the community and God at the same time. They really enjoy it.”
Cassidy Edwards, 17, joined other campers to unload boxes of food in the parking lot of Clinton Community Church. She enjoyed participating with her peers during the week and complimented everyone on the work efforts to help people in the community.
“It was a really good experience and a lot of salvation happened,” Edwards said.
Through Camp Illuminate, Edwards said everybody came for a reason related to Jesus Christ.
“I feel that everybody should go home and have Christ in them afterwards and be ready for next year,” Edwards said.
Dwayne Dunning, a director for Illuminate, said the 2015 group completed more work than previous years.
“It’s a big year, Dunning said.
Another change from last year is the camp receiving more female participants. who make up about 65 percent of the 215 participants. Dunning indicated that students learn a lot lessons through the camp, including service.
“Anything that you do for the Lord, do it with joy and do it with cheer,” Dunning said. “He always honors it.”
The camp received it names from the words of Jesus Christ in the Bible verse Matthew 5:16, which reads: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
“That’s what we’re teaching them here,” Dunning said.
There were some challenges when it came to weather and vehicle problems. But the camp still operated and allowed the participants to experience a ministry with each other.
“Despite of all that, God is doing more this year, than what’s been done before,” Dunning said.
Twelve-year-old Mia Paragin was one of many participants who built wheelchair ramps for handicapped individuals and senior citizens.
“It’s a really good camp if you want to learn about God and if you want to experience new people,” Mia said.
Syleste Chiomento, 14, said it was an amazing camp and enjoyed the worshiping aspect of Illuminate. Through the program, Syleste believes some people may have been saved if they opened up. She also said Camp Illuminate was powerful because it touched people hearts.
“It’s really great and you get closer to God,” Syleste said. “The (presenters) who speak have a fire and they’re really passionate.”
Alyssa Williams, 12, agreed with her fellows peers about Camp Illuminate making a spiritual difference in the lives of youths.
“It really helps you communicate with God and see why Jesus died on the cross for us,” Alyssa said. “I really like this camp because you can help people.”
Along with Mia, she also enjoyed helping with building ramps for people. Syleste served on the evangelist team.
“It feels amazing spreading the gospel to other people and it’s touching their hearts,” Syleste said. “You can see it in their face, that they know something is missing.”
She shared a moment, when someone received a Bible in their hands.
“She just held on to that Bible,” she said. “It was such a great feeling.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.