SBTC camps draw 4,098 students across five weeks

August 20th, 2019 / By: Texan Staff / comments

GLORIETA, N.M. When dozens of unusually subdued young people swarmed the chapel platform at to profess faith in Jesus Christ, recommit themselves to a daily walk with God or to confirm his leadership to serve in a vocational ministry—it was obvious the Holy Spirit chose to move in an unprecedented way three days into M3 camp. 

Typically, morning gatherings at the camp are characterized by loud and exuberant musical interludes where, well, teens will be teens. But on Thursday, July 18, associate student evangelism director Garrett Wagoner and the camp staff were impressed by God to offer an invitation for repentance and revival, he said.

So the youth kept coming.

“That was really a deep movement of God where God was doing so many things.., he said. “Students were lined up all day to get counseling from leaders and speakers; one camp pastor ministered to almost 2 a.m.”

The last week of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention M3 camps was already a success in terms of attendance. More than 1,735 teens and youth leaders registered for M3 at Glorieta Adventure Camp near Santa Fe, N.M. That number represents the largest teen camp in SBTC history at Glorieta, as compared to 1,615 in 2018. 

At all three M3 sites last year, the total number of campers was 2,865. This year’s 3,858 students bumped that number much higher with an additional week of camp at one site. The total number of decisions spiked to 684, compared to last year’s 591, an increase of 115 percent, with the number of reported salvations about the same at 170. When you factor in the kids attending the SBTC’s later Youth Camp for Hispanics, and the 13 who were saved there, all SBTC camps cumulatively involved 4,098 participants, with 188 marking the summer of ’19 as the day their lives were changed for eternity.

M3 Camps intentionally give students opportunities for “clearly hearing the gospel,” according to Wagoner. Its focus on “Moment, Mission and Movement” challenges teens to live evangelistically in their own communities and in the world at large. The camps promote breakout sessions geared to facilitating students to grow in their knowledge of and relationship to Christ. Small groups inspire teens to gather and talk about challenges and struggles, to pray, and to get to know and encourage each other. 

Teens and their leaders headed to one of three scenic sites this year: the Hill Country, South Texas, and just across the western border of Texas at Glorieta where groups from New Mexico, Louisiana, and Colorado also joined campers. Group recreation and a slew of breakout sessions on contemporary issues dominated afternoons.  

Sammy Lopez, a platform speaker from San Antonio who pastors Mighty Fortress Christian Fellowship, said the breakout sessions were outstanding and the girls in his group attended one on sex and sexuality.

“It really did help our girls to see their worth and value in Christ,” Lopez said, commenting on social media and the “lies” it generates.

Lopez said he believes the camp has motivated his students to the point that they set goals for when they return home; and the practice of keeping groups together rather than separating them according to grade level has had a unifying effect.

“That’s important,” Lopez said. “We have focused on “the seriousness of God. A lot of camps [are not]. Here they hit you right in the face.”

During worship Thursday, Lopez challenged campers to find their identity in Christ instead of changing genders or any of the myriad of things they regularly confront. 

Space is limited so churches hoping to attend 2020 camps are encouraged to plan early. Call 877-953-SBTC for more information or contact Wagoner regarding M3 dates of June 15-19 at Highland Lakes, June 22-26 at Zephyr, July 6-10 at Highland Lakes and July 14-18 at Glorieta. The Hispanic Youth Week will be held at River Bend Retreat Center in Glen Rose, Aug. 3-7.

For some adults who accompanied youth from their churches, Glorieta brought back memories of their own retreats into the mountains of northeastern New Mexico half a century ago. The pews, the stained glass and even the stars in the universe haven’t changed a bit.

And when nearly 2,000 voices combined to sing, “How Great Thou Art”, there was no age, gender or ethnic barrier. SBTC camps served as a platform for God’s power to be displayed throughout the universe.

As the visiting senior adult leader put it, “It only takes a spark.”