Knowledge Put to Practice | Heath Holmes’ Internship
When Heath Holmes set foot in Camp Joy in May of 2021, he thought he knew what to expect. This was his second summer of counseling, and as a senior in Biblical Counseling, he was confident that the fun weeks ahead would fly by smoothly. Instead, his confidence flew away when a staff member approached him, asking if he was willing to serve as a team captain. Heath was nervous but willing and the weeks to follow would prove to be the most rewarding yet.
The position of Team Captain is an important one; along with his co-captain, Heath led a group of around 12 counselors as one of the two teams that competed throughout the summer. He emphasizes the role that servant leadership played in the job: “It’s more serving than I thought, and that’s good.”
The primary responsibility of the Team Captains is to provide a competitive and fun atmosphere to help the kids open up to the preaching and teaching presented to them during the week, in addition to helping fellow counselors with their campers and making the week as exciting as possible. Heath was struck by how many campers had never experienced “that level of fun” before.
Heath admits that he had his doubts about the job: “I didn’t think I could do it,” he says, “but God gave me the strength and a great team and fellow captain to work with,” and the relationships he built with them impacted him in such a way that he still regards many of them as dear friends even months afterward. To “bring the kids a meaningful encounter with God” made all of the hard work worthwhile.
Camp Joy holds a special place in Heath’s heart; although a week of camp is typically small, consisting of around 100 to 150 campers and about 60 summer staff, he testifies that God is undeniably at work there. He appreciates the camp’s emphasis not only on providing a quality, fun camp experience but also on bringing campers into a closer relationship with Christ.
The obvious intentionality of the full-time staff with their summer staff impacted Heath the most. Through time invested in training and mentorship, Heath grew in his spiritual walk regularly. The two weeks of staff training at the beginning of the summer felt more like a mini-revival to Heath, and he stated that he felt more spiritually refreshed than he had in a long time as a result.
But it doesn’t stop there; the staff invest in their seasonal employees on and off-campus and take the time to focus on relationships with them and mentor them as well. As a result, the summer staff are better equipped and inspired to make a greater impact on their campers and watch God work in their hearts as a result. In Heath’s words, “Lives are really changed there.”
As far as working with campers, Heath cites his most valuable resource as Theology 2, a class taught by Dr. David Saxon at MBU. Studying the theologies of humanity, sin, and salvation proved essential as he assisted countless campers struggling with their salvation, and having a firm, biblical foundation of how to lead someone to the Lord proved invaluable in guiding campers to the point of trusting God. He also values Dr. Saxon’s investment in his students; much of the class is geared toward camp ministry, and he not only held discussions specifically about camp-related topics but also took the time in class to pray for his students and the various summer camps they would be interning with.
Heath additionally values the experience in his particular field of ministry. He quotes Mr. Mark Herbster from many years ago: “The best way to practice for ministry is ministry.” Heath has found this to be true; although information is an important part of any education, MBU’s emphasis on practical experience for Biblical Counseling students has been essential to his growth and study as a member of the ministry. “You can learn a lot of knowledge, but it’s useless without practice,” Heath shared.
However, knowledge has its place, as Heath can attest; through staff training and one-on-ones with Pastor John Moore, the camp director, the doctrinal instruction he received in the areas of salvation and sanctification changed his mindset not only on how he helps campers but also on his own walk with the Lord. He mentions how Pastor Moore spoke of the how, the why, and the what; Christians tend to focus on the what, the practices and ministries of the Christian life, but easily lose sight of the why – which, in Heath’s words, is “God’s amazing love for us.”
He specifically mentions his learning process in having the right how. Instead of doing things in his own power, Heath learned that living the Christian life does not mean meeting God halfway, but “completely abiding in Christ every day, every moment for the strength we need.” The power to do His will comes from God alone, and He used this learning experience to do a great work in Heath and through him; he testifies that he had the chance to help many campers in this area.
Heath looks back on his time at Camp Joy fondly and credits it with much of his spiritual growth within the last year. His heart for individuals is so evident, as is signified by his statement: “They don’t need theology, just biblical truth.”