by Kathryn Shoaf Posted Jan 29, 2018
Before I applied to work at Pine Cove, I had never heard of a ministry like Camp in the City. Every summer, Pine Cove packs up the joy and energy of camp and drives across Texas and the southeast. Along with obvious camp needs—such as snacks, skit clothes, and play pit balls—the caravan also carries a rock wall, inflatable water slide, and bungee trampoline. When each team arrives at their destination, they set up a mobile version of Pine Cove and conduct day camp for five days. Then the team packs everything back into the trailers, leaving nothing but changed hearts.
When I tell my family and friends about my summers as a Camp in the City staffer, they immediately have questions.
The answer to all of these questions is host homes.
Families graciously allow three to five staffers from Camp in the City to stay in their homes, eat their food, and use their washing machines. Without host homes, Camp in the City would not be able to operate.
Becky Prince, Director of Children’s Ministries at Pathway Church, has hosted Camp in the City staff at her house five times.
She says, “It’s been our favorite thing to do every year. Our children move their schedule around for the summer so that they can be here to host the staff.”
Brooke Mercer, Director of Children’s Ministries at First United Methodist Church of Victoria, adds, “The staff—and I had boys the first year—had the best manners. They were thankful and grateful. They were just so fun and it was so neat to have them around my kids because they were a great influence on my kids.”
According to Mercer, the benefits of being a host home far outweigh the costs. She enjoys building relationships with the staffers that her family hosts.
“This is so against the rules,” she admits, “but I think one night we stayed up until 2 in the morning just talking. We fell in love with the boys we had in our house.”
Prince has similar sentiments. “I love hearing their stories about how they got where they are at this age. It gives me so much hope of our youth today. I love hearing their testimonies more than anything.”
After I answer my friends’ questions, they are amazed at these big-hearted families that open their homes to college students. Certainly, host homes are an incomparable blessing to Camp in the City staff. At the end of each week, we dread leaving our host families.
To every family that has hosted Camp in the City staff, thank you for your generosity and hospitality. You may never know the number of lives that were changed because you welcomed a few college students into your home.
Editor’s Note: Camp in the City registration opens for this summer on Monday, February 5th! Learn more about Camp in the City and find this year’s list of nearly 100 locations here.