FORT POLK, La. — Pine Cove Camp in the City staffers — students recruited from colleges across the country to lead Christian-based day camps — descended on Fort Polk to shepherd a week filled with fun and learning May 28-June 1. Activities included playing on inflatable water slides, bungee jumping, singing, crafts, dancing and more, all while learning about Jesus Christ.
Since the Main Post Chapel is closed for repairs, the week-long camp was held at the Siegfried Youth Center.
Chrissa M. Gross, director of Religious Education at Fort Polk’s Chaplain’s office, said Fort Polk is the only military post to take part in Camp in the City.
“This event serves the Soldiers and Families of Fort Polk by providing them with spiritual readiness,” she said. “I would say 60 percent of the kids signed up for camp are not chapel attendees. The only thing they have in common is that they are military dependents.”
After watching Camp in the City staffers interact with the kids, Gross said they are awesome.
“The staffers are so good at placing a biblical and spiritual perspective in everything they do.”
Rebecca Smith, regional director of Camp in the City, said the goal is to bring in kids not normally connected to church. She said the 36 staffers especially enjoy staying with military Families on post while leading the camp.
“This opens our staffers’ eyes in a unique way. Learning these Families’ stories helps us better understand the military perspective and their way of life,” she said. “We hope to be a blessing to this community.”
Jenna “Buttercup” Forresten, Camp in the City staffer, said she attended the camp when she was a kid.
“Personally, my life was changed at a Camp in the City, so I wanted to one day give back to other kids by becoming part of this organization and sharing my ministry and the gospel with others,” she said. “Working with kids is my absolute favorite thing about camp. I love getting to know them and watching them grow.”
Forresten said this is her third summer with Camp in the City staff at Fort Polk.
“I love seeing the same kids and watching them change from year to year. They love camp as much as we do,” she said. “We are honored to serve them. I know the sacrifices they and their parents make, so I want to sacrifice for them. I know their lives sometimes lack consistency. We try to teach them that the Lord is consistent in their lives and will be with them wherever they go.”
Camper Kenadie Redford, 10, said this is her second year attending Camp in the City.
“I did it last year and I loved it. It’s fun doing all the dancing and seeing the counselors do the chants. I also like rock climbing and bungee jumping,” she said. “You get to do a bunch of fun activities, learn new things, meet new friends and learn about Jesus.”
Gross said the she wanted to thank the Fort Polk community for all they did to make Camp in the City possible.
“Knowing we needed a building to hold camp in, Siegfried Youth Center staff closed up shop and handed the keys for their building to us. We also couldn’t have had the camp without all the volunteers from the Fort Polk community who helped provide meals to the campers and staff,” she said.