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Summer mission interns make big splash

Mission interns serve Michigan camps

Five conference mission interns served this summer at United Methodist-affiliated camps as a way to explore potential mission and ministry careers.

MICHIGAN AREA UNITED METHODIST CAMPING

What is the best summer job for a young adult? Just ask the five Summer Mission Interns who served in ministry this summer with Michigan Area United Methodist Camping. Their answer: “Working at camp!”

Abby Antias, Regan Dawes, Joshua Jackson, Benito Moreno, and Mae Wikkerink served as 2022 camp staff through the Summer Mission Intern program of the Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church. Fourteen other young adults served in seven ministry settings throughout the state.

Group Training, Support

All the interns met at a training retreat in early June then headed for their assignments and further training before the summer programs began. For over 10 weeks at the camps (Wesley Woods Camp & Retreat Center and Lake Michigan Camp and Retreat) our five interns served as cabin counselors, program leaders, dishwashers, housekeepers, maintenance workers, cooks, worship leaders, office assistants, and spiritual and emotional support for campers, other staff and each other.

Young Adult Mission Interns
Eighteen Young Adult Mission Interns with the Rev. David Berkey and the Rev. Lisa Batten when they met in June for training. ~ Photo courtesy Michigan Area UM Camping

“This was the best summer I’ve ever had,” Mae Wikkerinkk, a sophomore college student from Wisconsin, said. “I’ve seen a lot of growth in myself and learned new skills I didn’t realize I had in me.” Mae heard about the internship from a friend and said she’s glad she applied. Her greatest take away from the summer is from her work with elementary age children. “I was amazed to learn how insightful and compassionate they can be.”

“The summer interns were a huge asset to Wesley Woods this summer,” said Site Director Nicole Holton.“They were trained in every area of camp and when a need arose they would jump right in and help.”

Michigan Conference Initiative

The Summer Mission Intern program has been sponsored and funded by the Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church for many years. This season a new partnership was imagined and undertaken by Young Adult Initiatives Coordinator Rev. Lisa Batten and Rev. Berkey with Michigan Area United Methodist Camping that provides additional training and support for those agencies doing day camps at local churches along with the overnight camp ministry.

campers and staff
Camp staff and volunteers look for creative ways to have fun. ~ photo courtesy Michigan Are UM Camping

“I am so proud and humbled to have served alongside these five future leaders,” said the Rev. David Berkey, Executive Director. “I also want to thank the conference for elevating the experience of all the interns and ours in particular. These young people gained a full-range of camp job experiences and contributed so much to the joy of our camper families.”

Career Exploration

Exploring potential mission and ministry careers, while earning a salary and having amazing experiences themselves was a highlight of the internship program.

Abby Antias, a psychology major from New York City who also has family in Michigan and a history with Wesley Woods, is feeling ready to apply for a US-2 ministry and possibly work on campus in Michigan. “I have grown a lot this summer, my second year at Wesley Woods,” she said. “I began to see myself more as a leader and to learn to accept constructive feedback to help me do better throughout the summer.”

Joshua and Abby enjoyed their internships and found ways to keep it cool.
Joshua and Abby enjoyed their internships and found ways to keep it cool. ~ photo courtesy Michigan Area UM Camping

Regan Dawes, a junior religion major from Adrian College who is feeling called into youth ministry, said, “The support of the other interns was helpful in giving me confidence throughout the summer. I learned I can work with kids, especially middle schoolers, my favorite.” Regan added, “Most importantly I grew in my outward enthusiasm for my Christian faith and feeling more ready to share it outside myself.”

Rev. Berkey praised the interns saying, “They faced adversity and at times exhaustion, but never gave up on the mission of serving the campers and the ministry – and had a lot of fun and growth along the way!”

If you are interested in applying for the next Summer Mission Intern Program, the application process will open in January 2023. Details will be posted on our website.

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The Michigan Conference