“I’ve waited all year to be here!” exclaimed one excited teen camper when she arrived for the 2022 summer camp in the Dakota Conference. Dakota Adventist camps started its busy summer season at Flag Mountain Camp in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota and ended at Northern Lights Camp on Lake Metigoshe in North Dakota on the border of Canada. The six weeks of camp were filled with non-stop action and memory-making opportunities.

For many, the Dakota camps experience is a summer staple. Several of this year’s campers and staff have attended Dakota Adventist camps for 10 or more years. Campers and staff came from 14 different states this summer to be at camp. It’s the beautiful camps, friendly staff, Christ-centered atmosphere, engaging activities, and bonding opportunities with friends that seem to keep them coming back year after year. One staff member summed it up in one sentence: “This is home.”

But unlike most homes where electronic and social media use are the daily norm for today’s youth, each camp day was filled with outdoor fun, giving campers a respite from their everyday digital lives. Between the two camp locations, campers were busy rock climbing, baking, swimming, water skiing, wakeboarding, mountain biking, zip-lining, tubing, sailing, creek walking, kayaking, making crafts, and shooting arrows during archery class.

In addition, campers played volleyball, ultimate frisbee, king of the dock, banana tag, Nerf War, and other various games. They also sang and helped lead out in daily worships. And although the days were full of engaging activities, the morning and evening worships together were some of the campers’ favorite parts of the week. Each night, young people could be heard praising the Lord throughout camp.

“It is powerful to see God working on the hearts and in the lives of our staff and campers,” stated Dakota Conference youth director Ted Struntz. “It is amazing to see the change that takes place when they give their lives to Him.” Struntz baptized several young people during camp, including one of his own lifeguarding staff named Seth. “Seth was baptized in the very water he kept swimmers safe in—it was an ultimate lifesaving experience!” Struntz said.

Among all of the campers, more than 85 percent made decisions to follow Jesus. These decisions mirrored the summer’s theme: Follow Me. These simple words, “Follow Me,” spoken by Jesus to His disciples, ended up changing their lives forever. This past summer, campers learned that although following Jesus isn’t always easy, it’s sure to be an adventure because He shows up in big and unexpected ways to help His followers.

Each week of camp centered on how Jesus wants everyone to follow Him in every facet of their lives. Nothing is more rewarding and life changing than following Jesus!