‘Rockstar’ Teens Shine and Serve at Camp

Brooklyn Bowen likes helping people, so when her church youth group planned a missions trip to Victory Lane Camp, she jumped at the opportunity. She’s already hoping to return to serve at a future camp.

Brooklyn was one of 24 Teens In Mission (TIMS) serving at Victory Lane Camp during this year’s summer camp sessions. Each Victory Family had at least one assigned TIM who connected with the family and helped in many ways.

“Everyone serving at camp thought the TIMs were rockstars,” noted Sierra Anderson, who coordinated the TIMs program as part of an internship with VLC. “Both the Serving Families and Victory Families told me that the TIMs were a huge help, and everyone was proud of them.”

This year’s crew of TIMS included a church youth group and teens who were members of a Serving Family or Victory Family. The focus this year was to develop opportunities for teens to serve actively as leaders during camp.

“Serving as a TIM requires dedication and boldness, but it is rewarding to learn more about Victory Families and to know that you enabled them to have fun in a new way,” Sierra shared.

Several of the TIMs had prior experience working with people who have disabilities. Ethin Thacker’s little sister has autism, and he also helps coach a special needs basketball team. Savannah Webber was inspired to serve by her mom, whose job involves people who have disabilities. Gage Caruthers attended camp as part of a Victory Family, but served another family as a TIM.

“It’s nice that the families all come together and make a community,” said Gage. “I’m thinking about a career in therapy, and the insight from therapists is helpful.”

Audrey Upchurch also experienced camp first as part of a Victory Family. This year, she served as a TIM for Rebecca and her family.

“Serving as a TIM has impacted me by making me have a better attitude about a lot of things,” she expressed. “It has also made me have a better look at what kids and families go through every day.”

Jadyn Youngquist was instrumental in launching the TIMs program, and she watched the idea really come into fruition during this camp season. Jadyn is currently in the eighth grade and experienced a very special time at camp this year.

“When I first moved here I met Emma, who has cerebral palsy, and we’ve been friends ever since,” Jadyn described. “I’ve been trying to get her family to come to camp, and this year she came!”

Jadyn served as Emma’s TIM, along with two other TIMS. Jadyn’s favorite moment was watching Emma arrive at camp and seeing the Victory Lane Camp community welcoming her and her family.

“It was cool to see all these people get to know her and love her the way I do, the way her family does,” she shared.

Jadyn hopes to see the TIMs program continue to expand. She enjoys seeing the connections that teens make with Victory kids.

“It’s important that we educate teens about children who have special needs and help teens come to the realization that these kids deserve all the love we can give.”