As a youth pastor, Dwayne Dunning has attended several camps with worship services and other fun activities for teenagers or children.
“That’s great, but it’s all about the personal,” he said. “It’s about me getting fed or me getting something.”
But for Dunning, the director of Illuminate, the local camp has a different focus.
“With Illuminate, it’s about doing for other people,” he said. “These kids come and they can’t wait to come out and work for a week.”
The organization recently wrapped up another successful year. It began in 2008 with a focus for local students to do missions throughout the community.
Dunning, a youth and young adults’ pastor at Clinton Community Church (CCC), enjoys the fact that Illuminate is not just one denomination or church.
“Yeah, we have different worship styles, but we come together for one cause,” Dunning said. “That’s for Christ and to make a difference in the community for him.”
Scott Baldwin, a member of CCC, preaches at several churches and agrees with Dunning on the denomination aspect.
“It kid of breaks that barrier,” Baldwin said. “People go to church, but they don’t do what the word says.”
The name of the camp comes from the words of Jesus Christ in 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.”
Participants pay $50 to have fun and to fellowship with others, but in the hot summer days, they’re ready to help others as well.
“We had some complaints and we had some griping, but some of that was from adults,” Dunning said.
From late June to early July, the work resulted in the construction of 12 ramps, 155 sewed dresses for ladies in Haiti and better looking yards at 10 homes.
More than 100 families benefited from Illuminate’s food drive. Through monetary donations, $1,200 was collected, which equates to 20,000 pounds of food. Paper products were donated to U Care, Inc.
An evangelism crew of students visited several locations such as hospitals.
Through the organization, Stop Hunger Now, bags of food were assembled and shipped overseas. Dunning said it was enough food to feed 12,000 people.
“It was pretty awesome,” Dunning said.
The Illuminate director said it takes a lot of work to host the program each year, but for the church it was well worth it. Officials plan to rotate the site to a different location in the future.
“We’re all coming together for the same cause,” he said. “You see them give everything they got for that week.”
Dunning said he hopes the participants walk away with some new knowledge in their faith and knowing they made a difference, despite their young age.
He made a reference to Timothy 4:12. It reads: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
“That’s one of the biggest things and having pride in it,” Dunning said about the young volunteers. “It’s not only the people they physically come into contact with, but there are thousands of people that they’ll never come in contact with.”
He described it as a ripple effect.
“It just goes on and on and on,” he said. “I think it’s a great thing.”
Dunning hopes Illuminate can grow beyond just one week by doing other projects throughout the year.
Mitchell Brewington, a director and youth pastor at Holly Grove Holiness Church, said it’s going to improve every year.
“It seems to be getting better and better each year,” Brewington said. “It give the kids the opportunity to go out and share the love of Christ with others.”
He said a lot of students live in a society where they feel like they’re entitled.
“That sense of entitlement seems to go away and the mission is to help others,” Brewington said.
Close to 200 students from Sampson County and other areas attended Illuminate. A lot of them visited vacation bible school sites to spread the word of God.
Like others, Brewington enjoyed the overall outcome of the weeklong event.
“By the end of the week, they were worshiping and praying for each other,” he said. “Sometimes they would pray for other adults.”
For more information, visit www.illuminatecamp.com.