LEWISTOWN - Several local girls from St. John's Lutheran Church, Lewistown, will leave July 22, and travel to Victory Valley Camp in Zionsville, to spend a week making friends, participating in fun activities, spending time learning about the Bible and much more.
The 12 girls, in grades 3 through11, will embark on this adventure with hundreds of other girls who participate in the Explorer Girls' groups all across the country.
EG Ministries Inc., was founded in 1982 as a Christ-centered, Bible-teaching ministry.
"Our purpose is to present the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of everyday living to girls preschool through high school," according to the founders.
The Explorer Girl program is a church-based club that meets weekly, providing young girls with the opportunity to come together for a time of fun and fellowship. At the weekly meetings, the girls get a chance to interact with each other through various activities, and they are given the opportunity to learn and grow in the Bible.
Explorer Girl camp is an extension of this program. Explorer Girl camp started in 1996 at Mount Gilead Camp and Conference center in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. "I had always had a wonderful experience at camp as I was growing up and I wanted the girls to be able to have the same experience. The camping ministry is the highlight of my year. I look forward to camp every year and can't wait to see what the girls will learn. Just to see one girl with her wide-eyed enthusiasm tackle an activity that she never would have the opportunity to do, is the greatest joy to my heart," said Camp Director J.K. Williams, who is also one of the founders of EG Ministries Inc.
The camp moved to Victory Valley in 2009, opening up a vast variety of new and exciting things for the young girls. At Victory Valley, the girls stay in large cabins in the wooded location, disconnected from the outside world. Cellphones and electronic devices are prohibited, and the girls spend a week "roughing it."
However, the girls seem to enjoy the time away. Often times the girls attending camp come from big cities, so staying in a secluded area, away from the hustle and bustle they are accustomed to, is refreshing and exciting.
Explorer Girls camp brings girls together from all different areas of the U.S., and helps them to develop skills that they may never be encouraged to use in any other environment.
"There is spiritual growth as they hear about God through the study of lessons from the Bible. They are challenged to learn social skills as they interact in their cabin groups and in activities. Mentally and emotionally they are also growing through the lessons they learn in the various events of the day. Physically they are running all day long and involved in swimming, archery, rock wall climbing, hiking, crafts, horsemanship, roller skating, sports and many other fun activities. Camp is an experience like no other. It speaks to every facet of a girl's life and therefore combines learning and fun in a variety of forms," Williams said.
This year, Kristen Doverspike, Kelsey Barth, Kate Hugendubler, Maria Fowler, Malarie Yoder, Jade Bottorf, Amaya Homan, Delilah Wileman, Alicia Yoder, Heyley Hicks-Homan, Kaitlyn Treaster and Layla Shimp will attend camp, representing St. John's church. For many of the girls, it is their first time at camp, and they are more than thrilled to be going. Not one seems to have reservations about being away from home.
"I'm really excited to go. I think I decided to go to kind of get away from the real world for a while, with no TV or cellphones or anything like that, to meet new people, and to strengthen my relationship with God," said Barth, 17, of Lewistown, a first-time camper.
Each year the camp has a theme, with special focus on something related to the Bible. Everything camp related revolves around this theme throughout the week, from cabin names to evening activities. The theme is kept secret until camp brochures are released in early spring, and the meaning behind the theme is not revealed until the girls arrive the first day of camp in July, adding to the anticipation and excitement.
This year's theme is "Sunrise to Sunset." The girls of St. John's are all very intrigued by the theme, and can't wait to arrive at camp to see what fun is in store for them this summer.
Donations for camp expenses are always welcome.
"Explorer Girls' camping ministry is just that-a ministry. The funding for this week long camp comes from a small amount of money that we charge the girls and from people who want to see girls come to camp. We are always lacking in the funds that will cover all of the expense of camp," Williams said.
Contributions to the ministry may be given to EG Ministries Inc. at 311 E. Providence Road, Aldan PA, 19018. EG Ministries Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit charitable organization and all gifts will be receipted.
"We are grateful for any gift that can be given to help provide a week of camp for a girl," Williams said.
More information on EG Ministries Inc. and Explorer Girl Camp can be found on the ministry website, located at egministriesinc.org/.
For more information on the Explorer Girls group in Lewistown, which meets at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays during the school year at St. John's Lutheran Church, visit the club website at eglewistown.org/ or visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/174003029370557/.
Pictures and updates will be posted throughout the week of camp via the Explorer Girls Lewistown group on Facebook.