Meet Telia Otto of Camp Hope, a summer camp in Tennessee that hopes to show Jesus to its campers while offering them the opportunity to experience camp free of charge. They are working to to carry out the mission of drawing children nearer to Christ in hopes that our culture would be dramatically changed for His glory.
What led to the creation of Camp Hope?
In the early part of 2012, we were presented with the opportunity to use some donated property if we were willing to carry out a camp of some sort on the land. As our senior pastor, Rip Noble, talked about it with the person who brought it to us, he began to talk and basically “speak out” the vision for a free camp where children would attend annually for the most formidable years of their lives experiencing God’s movement in and around them. The belief is that this would begin to break the generational curses of poverty & brokenness in Hawkins County, Tennessee. As time passed and circumstances changed, we saw that vision carried out on a piece of property that we already owned in the Church Hill area. Our church fell in love with the idea and took ownership raising up what sits on the property today.
What is one hope you have for each camper who attends Camp Hope?
We hope that every single camper who comes across our grounds sees something coming out of us that causes them to realize that they are valued & deeply loved. Scripture tells us that our love will prove that Jesus is who He says He is & that He came for them. We want them to SEE JESUS.
You recently hosted a CAMPassion over Fashion campaign— can you share a little about this?
One of the things we’ve seen happen since camp started is that EVERYBODY wants a camp t-shirt. You can travel around Hawkins Co. every day & you’ll see a camp t-shirt on the backs of people of all kinds in all sorts of places. It occurred to us that we could provide some unique shirts that are different from our normal shirts while also allowing people to support the camp’s operation. With Easter coming up, we knew that lots of people buy new clothes to wear when they come to church on that particular Sunday. So, we asked people to consider purchasing a camp shirt over those options and wear it on Easter Sunday in all of our buildings. As it turns out, people outside of our church who love Camp Hope jumped in on it as well, so it kind of took off from there.
What’s one way you’ve seen God at work through your ministry?
That’s easy, changed lives. We’ve had the opportunity to see thousands of campers presented with the Truth of the Gospel & how to live it out over the past six years. Many of them come back every year, and we have begun seeing students become counselors/interns now! Students who otherwise may have never come through the front door of a church have been impacted in a huge way, and we believe we’ve only begun to see the evidence of that & expect it to grow as the years pass by.
What are some ways people can support the work you’re doing in East Tennessee?
The most obvious thing is to pray for the work. We’re marching right into the enemy’s territory, and he isn’t pleased about that! Continued focus, passion, & strength are needed by all of us and an army praying behind us is crucial. In addition to that, come see! If you live near camp, make a trip to the property and have a look at what God is up to. There is no substitute for being present during a camp to just see what happens when these camps are taking place. If you can’t physically come, visit us on social media and watch from afar. We post pictures, videos, and updates all throughout the summer, so you can still get a look at what’s happening from all over the world. Finally, our intern program is looking for applicants at the beginning of each camp season, so you can go to our website or Facebook page to see if you qualify as an applicant or if someone you know might be a candidate to take part in a camp season.
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