From IT to Camp 56

Michael Foster Story - Camp 56As the Director of Information Technology for Crossings Community Church, Michael Foster plays an important role ensuring that software, computer systems, marketing, and many other crucial tools for church operations are running smoothly. Foster, however, would be the first to tell you that his personality really matches that of a fifth or sixth grade boy. “I’m right along that same wavelength,” he laughs. His personality, along with his love of working with children, encouraged him to get involved in Children’s Ministry – and you guessed it, he began to volunteer in Group 56 (fifth and sixth grades).

“The first time my wife and I visited, ten years ago, we truly felt the spirit of Christ here moving among people. We jumped right in, attending Sunday School and volunteering with the Children’s Ministry,” Foster says.

One of the things he was most excited about was volunteering at summer camp. “I always grew up going to camp, so after getting involved with Group 56, I kept asking when camp was going to be. I was quickly told, however, that there was no camp.”

Connecting at Camp

Foster was disappointed. “Camp to me was always a great way to reconnect with each other and with Christ,” he explains. It didn’t take long, though, until Foster was approached to start a summer program for Group 56. “With great ideas comes great responsibility,” he says. “I didn’t really know much about planning a camp, but with the help of some wonderful volunteers, Camp 56 was successfully started in 2006.”

Held each summer in Quapaw, Camp 56 is an exciting experience full of activities like horseback riding, swimming, fishing, zip-lining, and Bible study. Adult volunteers seem to love the camp, as well. “It’s really a four-day vacation each year with several hundred kids,” Foster jokes.

The camp also includes lots of fun and games, including a shaving cream fight. “I absolutely hate the shaving cream fight,” Foster laughs. “It’s one of my least favorite parts of camp. But during the chaos one year, I took a step back and saw a really neat moment. One child had shaving cream in his eyes, and you could tell his eyes were stinging badly and he couldn’t see at all. Another child took his hand and led the ‘blind’ child to water. This was really a revelation for me; so many people are blind, begging and crying out for water, and as Christians, we should be leading them to that ‘Water.’ We should be leading them to Christ.”

Blessings abound from Camp 56

Volunteering with Camp 56 has not only allowed Foster to help lead children to Christ, but it has also blessed him in many ways.

One of his favorite blessings to date is seeing some of the past participants in Camp 56 now serving as volunteers. “Several kids that started at camp are coming back as adult counselors. It is amazing to see them grow up from being a participant to being a volunteer, and it is so neat to see them pour everything they have learned back into these children.”

Perhaps the biggest blessing since volunteering with the Children’s Ministry, though, has to do with his own children. “Some of the students who participated in Group 56 when I first started volunteering are now my daughter’s Sunday School teachers. It’s amazing to see how the body of Christ works,” he says.

Foster has also been blessed by adult volunteers. “I have come to know several mentors through volunteering, mentors for both my spiritual life and family life,” he explains. “Sunday School is extremely important, but there is something about volunteering that allows you to get to know people outside of your normal life stage. Crossings is a big church, but volunteering makes it smaller. It is a phenomenal way to get involved with other people.”

Childlike Faith

For Foster, the Children’s Ministry is a perfect area to serve as a volunteer. “I joke about being along the same wavelength as a fifth and sixth grader, but childlike faith really speaks to me. It’s so neat to see them start to develop their own relationships with God. I feel like there is still so much that we can learn from a child’s Sunday School lesson,” he offers.

Crossings always needs more volunteers to serve on Sundays and Wednesdays in Children’s Ministry. “We want to have a better ratio of teachers to children so that we can pour into them. We really want to get to know them so that we can keep mentoring them and continue being in their lives even after they’ve left Children’s Ministry,” he states.

[blockquote align=”right”]Camp is a great time to get spiritually recharged. Your total focus is on Christ, and the relationships built with other volunteers are a really nice benefit.[/blockquote]

Foster believes an important key to volunteering with Children’s Ministry is to enjoy the age group. “If you do,” he says, “it’s really not work at all. You will have so much fun!” He understands that many people think they may not have the qualifications to volunteer. “A lot of people are worried that they don’t know enough about the Bible… they don’t feel worthy to teach children about God. This should not stop them from volunteering. There is no need to be an expert. When you’re learning, the kids are learning.”

Whether it is through shaving cream fights or Sunday School, Foster believes there is much to be gained through volunteering with the Children’s Ministry.