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Teen Camp Counselors Pursue Unity in Christ

August 5th, 2010

By Sarah Pride

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

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The 2010 summer camp counseling team, top row first, left to right: Rachel Heflin, Hannah Mitchell, Betsy Sayre, Brooke Kauffman, Dominique Deming, Natasha Malik, Tia Ly, Olivia Linde, James Barta, Jensen Near, Aidan Grano, Alan Carrillo, Daniel Broaddus, Matt Lukowiak

The week after Patrick Henry College’s teen leadership camps ended for the summer, a car filled with counselors drove south down the highway to South Carolina. Despite the humid summer heat outside, they bundled up in hoodies and blankets to protect against their blasting air conditioner. On the backseat lay delicate bouquets of flowers, carefully arranged by new alumna Tia Ly. Over the next few days, these and other members of the counseling team cooked seven huge pans of lasagna, decorated a church, and otherwise pulled together a wedding and reception for one of their teammates. Such a practical demonstration of love and a heart of service could have just as easily characterized the counselor’s care and mentorship of hundreds of high schoolers under their charge during the 2010 PHC Summer Teen Leadership Camps. They had defined their camps season by the theme: “Reflection.”

“We wanted to reflect Christ’s love in the flesh,” explained 2010 alumnus Jensen Near, who will serve as PHC’s Resident Director for men this next school year, having completed his third summer as a teen camps counselor.

“So many of the kids commented on how we counselors loved God and each other,” says Ly, who served as head counselor for women this summer. “The unity of our staff is one of the most powerful messages we can send.”

Dominique Deming, camps director and Resident Director for women this last year and the upcoming one, chose her team carefully. She says she looked for “varying strengths,” since “none of us are equipped to do everything on our own.

“I think this year’s team came together in such a way that strengths complemented weaknesses,” she concludes.

Counselors share ice cream and happy companionship on a rare evening off.

Numerous PHC students, faculty, and alumni organized and ran the curriculum and agenda for individual camps. Some of the counselors stepped into academic positions as well, as their various strengths allowed. Matt Lukowiak, the 2010 head counselor for men and 2009-2010 men’s Resident Director, lectured on Russian geopolitical reality to the debate campers. Deming delivered a session to the Leadership & Vocation camp. But all counselors got involved with evening free time, which included activities such as “Human Clue” and an impromptu talent show.

For this reason, when asked to pick a favorite camp, most of the counselors were stumped. “I don’t think there was a camp people didn’t enjoy,” Deming concludes at last. Not only did all the counselors have a hands-on opportunity to practice modeling leadership—one of their main reasons for attending PHC, she said —all the campers received a quality introduction to the College and its faculty, while studying a topic of personal interest.

“Teen camps are the number-one recruiting tool for PHC,” suggests Lukowiak, who expressed what seems to be a shared sentiment among counselors: if a student travels to the College and experiences the vision of Christ-based leadership in action, he or she will find it difficult to look away.

Exploring their inner child, camp counselors Olivia Linde, Hannah Mitchell, and Tia Ly

Along those lines, summer teen camps at PHC complement both the work of the College’s Office of Admissions and its Office of Student Life. The former seeks to help qualified high schoolers determine whether PHC and its community of young leaders is their best collegiate fit; the latter nurtures members of the campus community to grow into fully-realized Christians who love God and are equipped to serve others. Understandably, many of the teen camps counselors either served as PHC resident assistants last year or will in the fall.

As Lukowiak recently packed his white Chevy pickup in preparation for his drive back to California, for example, he reflected on his last year as male RD. After five years in northern Virginia, he looks forward to pursuing his career goals in the personal security industry. Someday, perhaps, he would like to run his own security business. Meanwhile, he says, he “could talk about his job as RD for hours.

“Since I haven’t done a long-term missions trip, I considered this a year of ministry,” he states. He enjoyed the close interaction with the RAs, whom he calls “great people!

“I wanted to give back to this community and do my best to make it better,” he says. “I’ll be back in October for Homecoming.”

And as the summer winds down, with another rewarding summer camp season behind them, staffers in the Office of Student Life look forward to another school year and the arrival of students new and old in less than two weeks, with the beginning of the fall 2010 semester.