Denise Carell is a long time friend of Sacramento, coming here as a youth. Now she serves on the other side of the spectrum, as a youth minister at St. Luke’s Midland. And, for the first year, she is the interim camp dean for Sacramento Youth Camp ( SYC). I asked her some questions about camp as someone who knows youth and camp oh so well.
What does camp mean to you?
I started going to church camp in the same area as Sacramento. In jr. high I started attending Sacramento. My life was changed at Sacramento. This is where I met God for the first time. I had always believed and known him to be real, but this is where the personal relationship part became personal. It was my “Road to Damascus” experience. My life was never the same after that. On the youth director level, I hope to help facilitate youth meeting with God maybe for the first time, or maybe on that personal level.
How can camp change lives?
Camp can take away distraction, and that includes the abysmal cell service at camp! Without cell service, cell phones become just a camera to capture moments. Kids are pulled away from negative influences and are given the opportunity to experience God, because it is finally quiet enough to hear him. Being there, looking around at his creation makes you feel close to God. Everything around them at camp is conducive to a life change.
Have you witnessed life change at Sacramento?
I have seen young people whose lives were headed one direction become open enough to be told by God that where they were headed, is not what God has in mind. Youth dealing with addiction, meeting the reality of sin. I’ve seen kids devote their lives to God, and God become real to them.
What issues do you think are the biggest challenges for youth today?
There is so much noise and things vying for their attention and everything seems equally important. The ability to discern what it actually important and to prioritize those thing and ignore distractions…it’s hard for teenagers. Social media is such a helpful tool, but it does send mixed messages to kids. One of the best benefits of camp is getting away from the noise. Not everything in the world is of the same importance and it’s tough figuring out priorities in life with all that noise.
What is the theme and/or theme verse for SYC this summer?
Ephesians 6:10-18. The theme is “Armor of God”, which is about guarding yourself against things that can take our attention from God, things that distract us from what is truly important.
What other names for “Youth Minister” describe what you do?
I’m the out of the box, big crazy, totally in control, cat wrangling, Jesus preaching, God following, theology obsessing, sleep deprived, *gaga champion of the world.
Coffee powered or Tea driven?
Oh, Coffee definitely. But like espresso, full on. The stronger the better.
7. Movie night? Or the book is always better?
I like to watch the movie before I read the book so I can fully enjoy the movie for what it is, and then read the book so I can love it without comparison. I know that’s weird!
We are so thankful for Denise, and her stepping into another big crazy role as camp dean. If you are wondering why camp is important to support, attend, donate to, and experience, this is exactly why. Camp makes a huge impact that is life changing. This summer, join us and experience the armor of God without the distractions of life. Camp is where life change happens. Camp is where life unhindered, happens.
*not actually the gaga champion of the world.