Spiritual leadership camp ‘kind of like a mini-seminary for teenagers’comment (0)
July 24, 2014
By Neisha Fuson
At Super Summer Alabama, leadership and discipleship are key themes taken to the next level.
This year’s spiritual leadership camp took place at Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center in Talladega, July 14–18. It was, for the seventh year in a row, “kind of like a mini-seminary for teenagers,” according to Robert Mullins, who has served as Super Summer Alabama director since its start in 2008.
But the foundation for Super Summer Alabama really began in 1987 when Mullins, who spent 22 years in youth ministry before becoming a pastor, was a junior in high school and attended the first Super Summer Mississippi.
God used Super Summer in such a powerful way to impact Mullins’ life that he felt the need to let other youth leaders know about the importance of this ministry once he was a youth minister himself.
By 2007, Mullins and three other youth ministers from across Alabama took their students to Super Summer Mississippi to see if it was something beneficial for Alabama youth.
Mullins said they all agreed they needed to start Super Summer in Alabama the next year.
“Super Summer exists to train and equip teenagers from Alabama to be Christian men and women and make a difference for generations to come,” said Mullins, pastor of Mount Hebron Baptist Church, Elmore.
The camp accomplishes that goal by teaching in-depth courses on the Trinity, apologetics, biblical worldview, mentoring, hermeneutics and missions, to name a few.
Students who have graduated grades 8–12 can attend the camp but must be approved by their youth leader, be actively involved in their church’s ministries and active in a discipleship small group, memorize Scripture, have a personal testimony and be able to share it with others.
The requirements help provide “an atmosphere where likeminded students can grow in their relationship with the Lord with minimal distractions,” according to Super Summer Alabama’s website. For 2015, camp leadership plans to add classes for students who have completed seventh grade.
This year’s camp hosted more than 300 students from more than 25 churches across the state; it was the largest gathering Super Summer Alabama has had yet, Mullins said. Divided into eight “schools” or age groups, students met 11 times throughout the week to study the Bible and courses together. They also met in the morning and evening each day with messages from Scott Kindig, executive pastor of Grace Fellowship Church, Snellville, Ga., and worship led by the Marc Lewis Band.
The camp also included time for morning devotionals, recreation and more.
Super Summer Alabama partners with the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM). This year Super Summer leadership worked specifically with Daniel Edmonds, director of the office of Sunday School and discipleship, and Jamie Baldwin, an associate in the same office.
Baldwin said the SBOM partners with and promotes Super Summer Alabama because of the “dearth of leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention.”
“We’re trying to stop (this shortage) by raising godly spiritual leaders and that’s what Super Summer is all about,” Baldwin said.
Mullins said in comparison to other summer camps, Super Summer Alabama “pushes harder.”
“We raise the challenge because we want to see results that are lasting. ... Our expectations are that these students are ready for the next level in their faith,” he said.
But Super Summer Alabama also serves as a networking tool, Mullins said.
Denis Tanner, student minister of Shades Crest Baptist Church, Hoover, said his youngest son will begin college in the fall and noted how making connections at Super Summer will be a “tremendous advantage” for him as he meets up with those Christian connections at college.
Tanner, who also serves as one of Super Summer Alabama’s administrators and was among the group of four that helped bring the camp to Alabama, encourages youth leaders to carve out time for Super Summer.
Shelby Cox, a member of First Baptist Church, Prattville, has attended Super Summer for several years. “Once I graduate (high school) ... in two years I plan on coming back as a team leader because no matter what age you are, Super Summer gives you some kind of life changing experience. It sure has made me grow as a Christiam tremendously in the last three years,” she said.
Every year Super Summer participants take up a missions offering for a selected ministry. This year they raised more than $3,400 to give to Red Door Kitchen, a food ministry that serves more than 25,000 meals a year to those in need in the Talladega area.
At the end of Super Summer, students interested in committing to full-time ministry or missions met with camp leaders. They spent Q-and-A time together to work through the details of their interest.
“We want to go ahead and begin allowing kids to respond to that call in their life,” Mullins said. “We have to have devoted pastors and other church leaders, ministers of the gospel (in the future). There’s no better preparation than this,” he said.