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James and his family made the long drive from Pheonix, AZ to Arden, NC to spend a week at Lutheridge. The self-described “talkative” high schooler was excited for his 11th summer as a camper. He was an Asheville Adventures Program camper for the previous two summers and loved it.

“My mom explained that the program would be slightly different this year,” he said. “I didn’t really have expectations for this summer. I just knew that we would go into Asheville one day and tubbing one day.”

In previous years, campers went into downtown Asheville to shop and explore. “I was hoping for that again this year,” he said, “but I got a whole lot more. This year was more fulfilling. It felt like we had an impact. Normally it feels like we are tourists.”

This year, James felt like a servant. “We went to a church where they have a food pantry and a garden,” he said. “We were very hands-on, picking fresh food. The garden has a strong impact on the community. We also visited the Cherokee Reservation to learn about their culture and experiences. That was really personal for me. My best friend back home in Phoenix is Navajo. During the day trip to the Reservation, I got to play a hand drum and eat fry bread and Indian Tacos. I am so going to gloat and rub that into my friend because he has never made me fry bread.”

James is looking forward to going back and sharing his experiences with others at his school. “When I tell people in Phoenix, I am going to church camp the language really freaks them out. They think it is crazy to spend a week with no phones like I was being kidnapped. But the experiences of this week have helped open my eyes to certain things other people have to deal with and it has been very spiritual and personal week. I look forward to sharing that with my friends and helping them better understand why we make the trip each year. This week has really felt like the most impactful and fulling summer yet. Each day was a feel-good day.”

Like others from the group, James looks forward to serving on summer staff just as soon as he is old enough. Until then, he will continue to share with others in his community and friend circle the power of being in this place apart.

P.S. During this season of giving, your generosity to camp makes it possible for us to raise new leaders like James for camp, the church, and the world. You can make a secure gift online here.