Week 1 of our 2016 Spring Camp is in the books with more than 180 students and volunteers from Vine, Northwest, Holston, Whittle Springs, Gresham, Carter, Powell, Halls, South Doyle and Rutledge Middle Schools participating. It was an unforgettable weekend for all involved.

Each camp has a theme and, with 2016 being an Olympic year, this year’s theme was the Summer Games. Students and leaders participated in a variety of Olympic themed events including a “40-inch dash,” a “javelin throw,” a “hammer throw,” and a “decathlon.” Naturally, each of these names mean something unique at YOKE. And of course, it wouldn’t have been YOKE camp without the finale. This year’s “messy war” included water balloons, flour bombs and shaving cream.

Last weekend’s camp was the first for new director, Jonathan Haskell. Watching our dedicated leaders pour into their students was a highlight for him, but he also noticed the impact that the students have on one another.

After losing a tight race on Saturday night, one of the students from Gresham was taking it pretty hard, feeling that he had let his team down. “I was making my way across the room to cheer him up, but one of our students from Northwest beat me to it,” said Haskell. “This young man left his seat, walked across the room and put his arm around the student from Gresham. It was so encouraging to see the students serving each other.”

It was also the first camp for new area director, Brandin-Lea Stevens and her highlight also came on Saturday night. She was beginning to lose patience with the girls in her cabin, but decided another warning could wait until after she got cleaned up and ready for bed. When she returned, the girls had gotten quiet, but the lights were still on, so she went to check on them. She found the girls seated in a circle on the floor praying together before turning in. Brandin-Lea could hardly contain her emotions as one by one the girls prayed and thanked God for the people who provided scholarships for them to go to YOKE camp.

Along with the memories, many life-altering decisions were made as well. And we’re only halfway through! Week 2 starts Friday with students and leaders from Jefferson, Maury, White Pine and Rush Strong Middle Schools in Jefferson County, Karns, Cedar Bluff and West Valley Middle Schools in Knox County, and Norris Middle School in Anderson County. Continue to pray for our safety and thank you for your support.