By Drew Choi
JHC, or junior high camp is a church camp designed each summer by the directors who chose to create a relevant theme for middle school youth. It's to have a time where they can make new friends, try new things, and grow closer to God. As an incoming 8th grader this normally would have been my 3rd year but due to COVID-19 this was my first in-person experience. For the past 2 years I’ve been a virtual camper and I think the staff did a great job of bringing the JHC experience to us. I had a lot of fun but as a PK (pastors' kid) and a younger sibling, my expectations were higher than anything that could’ve been brought to me by an iPhone screen. As I was traveling to camp this year, I was just trying to put my thoughts into order as I remembered all the camp experiences, I had heard about all my life. When we got to camp, I saw some familiar faces, but many more new ones. If I’m being honest, I was nervous I wouldn’t meet anyone new and I wouldn’t have as much fun as I was told I was going to. However, by the end of the first day I was already loving everything - the scenery, the people, the list could go on.
For the rest of the week the group we spent the most time with, were called growth groups. Growth groups (GG) consisted of 5-8 campers in our age range and 2 counselors to facilitate. One of my counselors couldn’t make it last minute however so major props to my group’s other counselor who picked up the slack and still managed to make our experience super fun and memorable. I grew closer with the other campers in my GG. The bonds I made with some of them I trust will remain strong enough to last a lifetime. Every day we played games, ate with new people, sang worship songs, reflecting with reflection groups, and growing closer to God in growth groups. On Wednesday though, we had a messy day which was pretty much campers and counselors throwing paint powder and shaving cream at each other and then getting hosed down with freezing mountain water but smiling and laughing, nonetheless. That night we had etiquette dinner which taught and encouraged being polite and learning how to make small talk to get to know new people. Following the dinner was the etiquette dance. I think the directors lost their hearing because all I could hear were me and my friends screaming Footloose and Olivia Rodrigo at the top of our lungs. That night’s activity was called meditation under the stars. Even though I had a fun time with all the shaving cream and dancing, meditation under the stars had to be the highlight of my night. If you ever get a chance, looking at the stars in the middle of nowhere, no city lights to distract, is an experience I honestly won’t ever forget. Overall, I am thankful to God, my family, and the prayers of our church. I had such a memorable experience that I hope other youth from Centenary will participate next year because I truly can’t wait to return to camp.