Paducah summer youth camp to focus on heart and home in 2015

2/13/2015

“PUMP Camp offers … a great balance of ministry and fun for a really economical price,” according to Rev. Anthony Schaeffer. Above images are from past camps. Submitted photos.


By Casey Northcutt Watson
 
This July, dozens of teenagers will arrive in Paducah, Ky., with work clothes packed and sleeping bags in hand. From July 5-10, Broadway UMC in Paducah will host the 17th annual Paducah Urban Mission Plunge, or PUMP Camp.
 
Concord UMC in Paducah began PUMP Camp as a way to serve the local community and the UMC youth. The event combines elements of traditional summer youth camps, such as Biblically-based lessons, games and outings, with community service at area nonprofits. And, it only costs $99 per student.
 
Rev. Anthony Schaeffer, associate pastor of Mayfield First UMC and Trinity UMC in Mayfield, Ky., helps organize PUMP with a collaboration of local youth directors and ministry leaders.
 
“PUMP Camp offers … a great balance of ministry and fun for a really economical price,” he says. “I don’t know of many camps where you could have the experience that PUMP Camp offers for around $100.”
 
And for that amount, campers are fed and housed while they volunteer at organizations such as Starfish Orphan Ministry, Midtown Alliance of Neighbors and The Community Kitchen. In between those service opportunities, leaders guide discussions around a camp theme. Schaeffer says the 2015 camp theme will be “Home is Where the Heart Is.”
 
“’Home’ really is where we put our hearts,” he says. “We want to focus that toward putting our heart with God and making Him our home and helping others who maybe don’t have their heart there.”
 
The leaders plan to explore this concept of “home” through short lessons, small group time and worship sessions—all of which will occur at different locations throughout Paducah because the event is a district-wide effort. Each year, the several of the city’s United Methodist churches open up their doors, welcoming campers for dinner or worship. Volunteers from various congregations also travel to Broadway to cook meals.
 
Schaeffer’s wife, Jessica, serves as director of youth ministries for Mayfield First UMC and also helps plan PUMP. She says between the loyal volunteers and returning campers, camp each year seems like a family reunion. However, she also greatly enjoys watching the new students as they try out PUMP life for the first time.
 
“It’s just good to see them come with expectations that good stuff is going to happen here,” she says.
 
And in the past years, good things have happened. The Schaeffers say students have kept in touch after camps have ended, and some continue volunteering at the nonprofits they discovered during the event. Last year, one youth group missed its PUMP friends so much, it hosted a small reunion in December.
 
Those interested in attending the 2015 PUMP Camp can find more information about it at www.pumpcamp.org. Teens can attend either as individuals or with youth groups. Although PUMP operates with a flexible registration schedule, youth groups need to sign up before June 19 to make sure all of their students get confirmed spots as well as t-shirts.