Jeremiah’s Story: From Camper to Camp Leader
By: Deb Guedry and Aimee Murry
Jeremiah was nervous. Yes, he had heard about Camp Hidden Lake, The Salvation Army’s camp for the Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division. He heard how friendly everyone was and how lifelong friendships were made at camp. Still, he felt the pressure to fit in.
But Jeremiah is a standout, from his towering height and his boisterous personality to his megawatt smile. Captain Michael and Malika Good, divisional youth secretaries and directors of Camp Hidden Lake, wisely told Jeremiah to, “Get in there and be your true self.”
“It’s easy to feel like your true self because everyone here encourages you to try anything with such positivity,” said Jeremiah.
He remarked that he had never tried pushing himself into new things until camp. He recounted stories of camp counselors encouraging him through many new experiences: singing in the choir, ballet and hip-hop dancing, and fishing for the first time.
“They would say, ‘You can do this, Jeremiah,’” he said. “I gained my self-confidence at camp.”
Jeremiah quickly jumped in and got involved with camp activities, volunteering to assist in any way p o s s i b l e — w h e t h e r serving meals, cleaning, or setting up for each event. His enthusiasm and love for others earned him the respect and admiration of campers and staff.
“There’s an energy about camp that makes me love being on the grounds and serving the Lord,” he said.
Jeremiah was recently promoted to camp counselor.
“I’ve always been told that I’m a role model to the young campers. But to me, my job is easy,” Jeremiah noted. “I love to bring joy and share a smile with anyone on the property… sometimes just being kind is all the comfort anyone needs.”
Camp Hidden Lake offers young campers more than 300 acres of wilderness experience in addition to various outdoor activities. That includes zip lining, a ropes course, swimming and sporting activities, and drama, music, and art classes. Campers also participate in chapel time in the mornings and evenings and are taught Bible stories in creative ways to help them learn and remember the word of God.
“The campers are always so excited and happy to be out of their daily lives and having fun,” Jeremiah said. “Camp is a great way to relax from the pressures and stress of home life, meet new friends, and interact with kids like you.”
Jeremiah stays in touch with friends from camp throughout the year. He also looks forward to seeing old friends while making new ones every summer.
“Looking back on that first experience at camp, I’m not sure why I was worried because now I look forward to going back to camp every summer,” Jeremiah said. “I thank The Salvation Army for teaching me to let go of my worldly problems and not let small things weigh me down because there’s so much more that God has offered me. Camp Hidden Lake has taught me how to love myself so I can love others.”
When asked about his expectations of his upcoming responsibilities supervising excited campers, he laughed, “They will keep me on my toes.”