When Ashley Ricks graduates next May her attention will turn to wedding planning, moving and job searching, and for the first time in a long time her summer plans will not include Camp Cale.
Ricks, a senior at Campbell University, first came to Camp Cale as a 12-year-old camper. “I could see the love that the counselors had for the Lord and for the campers. I remember, it was my first year here, and the director asked me if I had ever thought about being a counselor,” she said.
From that point on, Ricks found a home at Cale. She came as a camper four years and a counselor six years, serving during high school and college. She served one year as lead counselor and one year as program coordinator.
This camp in the small eastern North Carolina town of Hertford, situated on the shore of the Perquimans River, is making a big impact in the lives of campers and counselors like Ricks.
BSC photo by Melissa Lilley
Ashley Ricks, a Campbell University student, spent her summer at Camp Cale – again. Ricks has been coming to Camp Cale since she was 12 years old and has served on staff for several years in a variety of positions. Here, she oversees some children on the ropes course.
“Without this experience I don’t know who I’d be today. I can’t imagine my summers anywhere else,” Ricks said.
As a counselor Ricks has done it all, from leading devotions with the girls in her cabin and sharing her testimony, to learning to clean a bathhouse, teaching tract times such as the high ropes course, and managing the snack shop.
Most importantly, she has learned how to be a spiritual leader and how to keep her focus on Jesus.
“I had to grow spiritually,” she said. “I had to fill myself up so I could give it all out to the campers. It’s not about us. It’s all about the campers and showing them Christ.”
After 10 years, Cale is still as much a joy to Ricks as when she first arrived. “I want to help the campers love Cale as much as I do. I’ve seen campers come back like I did to serve as junior counselors and senior counselors,” she said. “God has called us to serve Him, and we should go out and serve whether it’s at a camp, in your hometown or across the world.”
Camp director Matt Thomas encourages his counselors to always look for the “teachable moments” and to build relationships with the campers so they can have an opportunity to share the gospel.
“Camp would not have the same impact if we didn’t share Christ with the campers,” Thomas said.
Cale offers fun activities, such as archery, swimming and kayaking, but the priority is helping children and youth grow in their relationship with Christ.
“This camp lets them focus in a safe environment on God’s Word and encourages them to go back home and live for the Lord,” Thomas said.
This year’s summer camp theme was “Creation Labs,” based on Psalm 51:10. “We want the campers to know that God is the creator of all things, and they are His special creation,” Thomas said. “God wants to have a relationship with them.”
Campers participate in two worship services each day and learn key scripture passages throughout the week.
Tracy Smith, pastor of youth and evangelism at Rocky Hock Baptist Church in Edenton and member of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina Board of Directors, spent a week at Cale this summer as camp pastor.
“In this area I see a lot of religious people, but I see people who aren’t fully committed and surrendered and walking closely with the Lord,” he said. “The need is huge for a place like Cale. We need to get away from religiosity and be what God has commanded us to be; to teach these campers how to be participants in the Great Commission.”
Smith is encouraged to know that at Cale the Word of God is not watered down or compromised, and youth are challenged to stand firm in the Word.
“In the years to come, you will see great things come from this place,” he said.
Although Cale’s main outreach is summer camp for grades 2-12, the long-term vision is for Cale to offer more opportunities for families and for conferencing, such as marriage conferences and men’s and women’s events. Construction on a new conference center building is underway and will be ready next year. The next phase in the camp’s physical development will include additional lodging facilities.
A ministry of the Chowan Baptist Association, Cale spans 10 counties and 68 churches. Thomas said expanding Cale’s ministry has been, and will continue to be, made possible in large part through the support of local churches.
Cale’s ministry is also made possible through the dedication of staff like Ricks and Thomas who want to see the next generation grow up in the knowledge of the Lord.
Andrew Young came back to Cale this summer for his fourth summer as a counselor. He is grateful for the chance to pour into the lives of the youth, just as others did for him when he was their age.
Throughout the camp weeks he shared the gospel with the campers in his cabin, explaining concepts such as sin, forgiveness, grace and mercy, and let campers ask questions and shared his testimony of salvation.
Young said a former camper recently contacted him and thanked him for sharing his testimony several years ago at camp.
“The staff to camper relationship is one of the special things about Cale,” he said.
“I never realized the impact God allowed me to have on the campers while I was here. Sometimes you don’t know the impact you have until much later.”
A fall fundraiser is planned Oct. 20. Called “For Such a Time as This,” the capital campaign banquet starts at 6 p.m. Send donations to 377 Camp Cale Road, Hertford, NC 27944.
Call (252) 264-2513. To learn more about Cale visit www.campcale.com.