Supervising, conducting rope courses, cleaning rooms, cooking and serving food to guests – these are just a few of the ways that Shocco’s Resident Summer Staff (RSS) serve guests at the conference center Baptist every summer. But RSS members also minister outside of the Talladega campus as part of their duties.
Program Director Blaire Butler arranges for all RSS members to participate in a short-term mission trip while in Shocco. This year, for the first time since 2019, students were divided into four teams and sent to smaller camps across the state of Alabama.
The trip to Alabama WMU’s WorldSong Missions Place in Cook Springs was led by Director of Recreation Casey Pearson. The main project for this “guys only” team was to work on the elements of the WorldSong ropes course, which are installed in the trees of the WorldSong campus. As the trees grew and developed over the years, the material was enveloped by the growing trees. The Shocco team reinstalled and replaced all of their safety/belay lines.
“The most exciting part was that in addition to our experienced guys, we were able to include young students who have never had the opportunity to ride in a harness, climb a tree and work with their hands” , Pearson said.
WorldSong Administrator Charles Taylor praised the team’s work.
“Casey and his team did an amazing job helping fix our challenge course ahead of summer camp,” he said. “They had a great attitude and also helped us get ready for summer campers by clearing many of our hiking trails. It was a real pleasure to work with them. I am extremely grateful for their generosity and servant heart.
The Husband/Wife Team Matt Cowart, Shocco’s IT Manager, and Lauren Cowart, Guest Relations Manager, led a mission trip to Camp Baldwin in Elberta (near Foley). The team included certified lifeguards and students who did work and trail maintenance around the grounds.
Baldwin camp director Bradley Rogers, who previously served at Shocco Springs, said the help was greatly appreciated.
“We were understaffed, so having two extra lifeguards allowed our staff to rotate and be out of the sun for a little while each day,” he said. “The relief they provided to our rescuers was awesome.”
Members of the Shocco RSS team also helped clean up camp trails damaged during Hurricane Sally and assisted in the maintenance of other grounds.
A third team helped out at Camp MACOBA, the Madison County Baptist Association camp in New Market. Led by Russell Klinner, Executive Director of Shocco, and his wife, Rebekah, the team cleaned and sealed the exterior of the camp’s two cabins and cleared any remaining construction debris from the recently constructed bathhouse.
“These guys stepped up and did a really good job with a great attitude,” MACOBA manager Todd Panter said. “It was a wonderful experience for us and we would love to have them back.”
A few months ago, a team of RSS members helped Mount Gilead Baptist Church in Dothan break down and store items for their “Annual Walk Through Bethlehem”. The team also moved shelves and music for the new Church Music Department storage system.
Reflecting on the missionary work done by RSS members this year, Butler said giving back is a way for Shocco leaders to invest in students serving on campus and help them see the big picture of Christian service. .
“It’s good for students to get away from campus, spend time bonding, and get to know people they might not hang out with regularly,” Butler said. “We want RSS students to remember that we are all in this together. As collaborators with the other camps, our goals are to win people for Christ and to grow together in Christ. (Shocco Springs)