Rain pelted the building, thunder boomed, the wind howled, and in the darkness over the raging storm 73 voices could be heard passionately singing, “We will praise the Lord our Rescuer.” The storm of June 20 was violent in Brainerd, with winds over 80 miles an hour. North Star Camp was in the middle of Cub Camp, with precious campers ages 7-9 on campus. Over 25 large trees fell around center campus, the road into camp was blocked, the water and electricity were out. But as the storm subsided and campers went back to their cabins, the camp was bathed in prayer.

That evening we were finally able to walk the property to survey the damage. Massive trees were down all around, within a few feet of buildings. But while fallen trees surrounded houses and cabins, miraculously not a single tree hit one of our buildings. Yet we were still stranded on campus as our road was impassable. Scott, our amazing camp ranger, started a chainsaw crew and with the help of camp staff and Adam from the Brainerd Church, the road out of camp was cleared that night.

With so much of the power down throughout Brainerd, there was a big possibility that we would have to send our campers home as we could be waiting for up to a week for the power to be restored. But through the mercy of God, by the next morning, June 21, power was restored, and this group of Cub Campers were able to praise Jesus their Rescuer and head out to a regular day of fun and activities.

This past summer our theme was “Rescued by Jesus” and through nightly study of the story of the children of Israel’s rescue from slavery we explored God’s grace and mercy and experienced God coming into daily contact the campers and staff’s lives. This summer our team of 35 staff served 314 campers.  When given the opportunity on Friday night to make decisions for Jesus, here is what happened with campers: 110 started a relationship with Jesus, 60 want to be baptized, 67 want prayer or Bible study, and 87 recommitted their lives to Jesus. We are praising God for the life changing evangelism that happens at camp!

The North Star Camp experience is making a difference in people’s lives and people want to be a part of it.

One example is Kessler, whose family moved to Colorado last year, and yet he begged to attend camp this summer—not just any camp; he desperately wanted to come back to North Star Camp. Incredible family drove him the 15 hours required to attend North Star Camp, and when asked about his experience Kessler said, “This year was even better than last year!”

Piper and Hailey are both hard working teens; one has a job in pet care and the other at a local candy shop. Both of these ladies took time off work to come to camp. Why? They wanted to connect with God, do the fun activities, and reset.

Lola has been coming to camp for many years. This summer she signed up for three weeks of camp! One of those weeks she served as a Counselor in Training (CIT) and she is excited about camp ministry and is planning to come back to camp next year—but this time as a staff member.

Elise served as staff last year and after camp realized she wanted her school year job to be ministry focused as well. Elise now serves as a teacher’s assistant at Southview Adventist School. She also returned to camp this summer to continue doing ministry as a mentor and counselor for her cabin.

Edward, a second year staff, loves camp and shared, “This summer I grew in leadership in more ways than I could have ever imagined.” Besides being involved in music and the nightly play, Edward took on the responsibility of being the waterfront director this summer and it was beautiful to see God using and growing him as he supported his team and served the campers.

This past summer was wonderful! A huge thank you to all the parents, alumni and churches who partnered with us to make this summer possible. Thank you for the time, prayers, and financial support you have poured into this amazing evangelistic ministry.

Our biggest praise is to God, for all the continual blessings He has given to our camp, for the safety we experienced, for the Christian community that was present, and for the seeds sown and choices made for God. “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.” Psalm 105:1

Registration for camp season 2023 opens March 1, 2023. Who in your life could be blessed by coming to camp next year?

Shelina Bonjour is director of youth ministries for the Minnesota Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.