Sitting in a rocking chair on a balcony at Ridgecrest Conference Center near Black Mountain, N.C., I listened to teenagers below sing the popular worship songs “What a Beautiful Name” and “No Longer Slaves.”
I love Ridgecrest because I find its beauty to be peaceful. But rarely quiet. I was moved as campers voiced praises to the Lord during a FUGE summer camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains that He created and crafted for His glory. It reminded me how thankful I am for FUGE.
I’ve stayed at Ridgecrest many times before, both by myself and with my whole family, but this is at least the third time I have stayed there while a FUGE summer camp was in session.
FUGE was launched 40 years ago in 1979 by what was then the Baptist Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention – now LifeWay Christian Resources.
The original version of the camp was Centrifuge, a youth discipleship camp that remains very popular (and is the source of the “FUGE” name). Over the decades, the FUGE family of camps has expanded to include CentriKid, for third- through sixth-graders, and MissionFuge, which emphasizes personal evangelism and service.
While one might expect Ridgecrest to host all the FUGE camps, most are hosted by Baptist-related colleges and universities. My own institution, North Greenville University, is hosting FUGE camps all summer.
I love watching campers bounce around our campus during the day, meeting some of them in our dining hall during meals, and occasionally worshiping with them in our chapel during the evening. I also love meeting the sleep-deprived chaperones who’ve taken time away from busy schedules to invest in their church’s young people.
My own life has been richly blessed by FUGE. It was at Centrifuge at Carson-Newman University that I first had extended conversations with a youth minister about whether God might be calling me into full-time vocational ministry.
It was at Centrifuge at Palm Beach Atlantic University where I first led another individual to saving faith in Jesus Christ. The following year I had my first summer camp experience as a leader when as a summer youth minister, I took a youth group to MissionFuge at University of Mobile.
Most important, it was at Centrifuge at North Greenville University – where I now serve as chief academic officer – that I prayed to accept Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. I’m not just thankful for FUGE; I’m eternally grateful.
This summer, tens of thousands of FUGE campers will be served by hundreds of staffers at dozens of locations around the country. The theme for the summer is “Restored.” (You can watch the promotional video online.)
Join me in praying that the Lord would be at work through FUGE and other Christ-centered camps to bring a multitude of young people to faith in Christ, to strengthen the faith of many others, and to “call out the called” to vocational ministry and missions.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Nathan A. Finn serves as provost and dean of the university faculty at North Greenville University in Tigerville, S.C.)