Every year in June, the town of Hillsboro, that had recently lost a large number of its population due to Tabor College being out for the summer, increases in size again as it is invaded by elementary school children. D street slows way down and traffic accumulates as drivers stop for a complete stop in front of the Tabor dorms.
The reason for the increase in population is that kids, third grade through fifth grade, from all over the midwest come to attend Southern District Youth Conference (SDYC) Kids Camp also known as “Tabor Camp”.
According to their Facebook page, The Southern District Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches is a part of the larger US Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. The Southern District, along with three other districts, Central District, North Carolina Conference and the Latin American MB Conference (LAMB), own Tabor College.
JL Martin, the pastor of children and family at Hesston MB Church shared a few statistics of their year’s camp.
“We had 195 campers and 85 staff. Many of the staff are high school juniors/seniors and college students as well as some parents, too. A lot of the staff returns several years in a row,” said Martin. “Camp went really well this year. We had great weather and had a great staff to make the week run smoothly.”
Many of the kids who attend the camp later come back to work at it. In fact, many of them are Hillsboro’s own residents.
Kate Maxfield, 15, worked in activities this year. She attended the camp as a kid for all three years that she could.
“My favorite memory of camp was singing songs on the steps outside with all the campers and counselors before chapel time,” Maxfield said.
This year, Maxfield worked as one of four camp assistants who were also lovingly referred to as camp minions.
“I came the day before the campers arrived and helped get lots of boxes and tubs out of storage. On the day that campers came I got them checked in at the registration table,” said Maxfield. “I also did lots of setting up and organizing activities throughout the week. Basically I didn’t work a lot one on one with the kids but more behind the scenes.”
Dana Maxfield, Kate’s mom, was excited to see her daughter move from the role of camp attendee to camp assistant.
“One of Kate’s youth leaders suggested to her several months ago that she help out at camp and she immediately considered it. She isn’t old enough to be a counselor, but assisting sounded like the perfect fit for her,” said Dana. “We are so proud of her for stepping out of her comfort zone and helping out in this local ministry. She has already said that she hopes to help there again next year.”
Tucker Moss, 18, also expressed his desire to return and work next year and for years to come.
“It was my fourth year being a counselor which is a guide to the kids to give them advice or just help them in their faith.It’s awesome being the biggest brother to like 10 kids all at once,” said Moss. “I’m going to do it as long as I am able to.”
Dani Klein, 16, who also attended the camp all three years, worked as a counselor this year for the first time.
“Being a counselor means being the first awake every morning and the last asleep every night,” said Klein.
Klein had many favorite memories.
“My favorite memory as a camper has always been the super large slip n slide they have for the all camp activity! It is so fun and I’m always down for a slip n slide,” Klein said, “As a counselor, My favorite memory from this year is probably one of our campers accepting Christ. We totally threw a party in our mod and it was totally awesome.”
Jenna Hinerman worked as an activities assistant for one year and then has been a camp counselor for the last two years.
“My favorite part is being crazy and sharing God with the campers,” said Hinerman.
It seems most everyone enjoys their time at Tabor Camp.
“I love Kids Camp because the campers really look up to the counselors and the counselors have lots of energy to make camp a lot of fun. I also enjoy the conversations that I see happening all over camp about God,” said Martin.
Visit their Facebook page to see pictures of all the fun they had at https://www.facebook.com/SDYCJKC/.