A year of camp? Sign me up!
Yearlong internships at PC(USA) camps give young adults a chance to do ministry in both camp and congregational settings.
By Aimee Spicuzza and Paul Humphreys
At times, we look at people and wonder why on earth they would do that. Maybe it’s drug addiction, obsessive behavior on social media, dressing a certain way, or buying into some awful fad. It’s easy to dismiss such behavior as immature or superficial. But ultimately it comes down to this single drive: we crave community.
Deprived of many traditional contexts for community, this drive is particularly potent for the millennial generation—the young adults of today. And we who watch from the sidelines, often as judge and jury, might learn a thing or two from this drive.
This current generation has taken the search for community to a new level. With previous generations having nearly exhausted the list of options of “where to hang your hat,” young adults are getting creative. One of the results is a new yearlong young adult internship that brings together camp and congregational ministry.
Presbyterian camps and conference centers provide the perfect petri dish for exploring community, as well as a good dose of reality, hard work, accountability, and of course grace. Admittedly, camp can be a bubble, a fun time insulated from the responsibilities of so-called real life. It’s an intensive period of relationship building, experiencing the outdoors, and learning new skills. That bubble aspect of camp does, though, have one advantage: it can provide a safe place for young adults to explore who they are and experiment with kinds of community. Through this pairing of camp with mission and congregational ministry, young adults consistently get a chance to step out of that bubble to encounter lives and needs very different from their own. Combined, these two aspects of the internship are making for some exciting growing opportunities.
And in the process, these young adults might just teach the rest of us about the new possibilities for community in the 21st century.
A young adult perspective from Aimee Spicuzza
As graduation from high school neared, questions swirled in my head: “What do I want to do? Where is God calling me?” Four years of college and a degree I wasn’t sure I wanted did not sound like the answer. After researching options, I found one that seemed to be just what I was looking for, something that would help me answer the still-swirling questions. Unsure about moving far from home, I prayed and decided a time of intentional community, discernment, and fellowship was what I needed. Not knowing what this community would look like, I took a leap of faith and moved to a camp for nine months.
Looking back, I can say that this was a good decision. I grew in more ways than I thought possible and discovered the value of community. I cannot say it was the easiest nine months, but it did change me and helped me grow and be stretched even when it was difficult. Community is not always fun, and sometimes I wanted to give up, but I knew putting in the work was the only way I would gain anything from the experience. Even when things were tough, I knew God called me to be a part of that community, and I am glad I listened.
During that time I discerned a call to ministry. I am now enrolled in seminary part-time, pursuing an MDiv while working at Crestfield Camp and Conference Center in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. There, I coordinate a program for other young adults who need this time and space for community and discernment—all because I took a leap of faith and joined an intentional community.
Aimee Spicuzza is the coordinator of grACE House at Crestfield Camp and Conference Center in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, and is an MDiv student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Paul Humphreys served as program director at Calvin Center, Georgia, for 11 years before returning to his home in New Zealand. He plans on returning to the United States to continue his ministry.
order the special issue Guide to Young adult ministry and read more articles like this one
The following are just a few of the camps and conference centers offering both short-term and long-term internships and leadership opportunities:
- Camp and youth internship at Heartland Center, Kansas City, MO: heartlandcenter.org
- Common Soul/Sole at Calvin Center, Hampton, GA: calvincenter.org
- Discernment Through Service at Cedarkirk, Lithia, FL: cedarkirk.org
- Farm the Land, Grow the Spirit at Stony Point, NY: stonypointcenter.org
- grACE House at Crestfield Camp and Conference Center, Slippery Rock, PA: crestfield.net
- Pilgrimage to Iona, Scotland, through the Westminster to the World program of Westminster on Higgins Lake, Roscommon, MI: campwestminster.com
- Summer camp and year-round internships at Camp Cho Yeh, Livingston, TX: cho-yeh.org
For summer staff jobs across the country: pccca.net
For more about Presbyterian Camp and Conference Ministries: pcusa.org/campandconference