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BCF Press Release



July 27, 2015

Press Photo

BCF Psychology Professor Kristy Ford takes a break from supervising her BCF students to help with crafts at Camp Macon.

For one intense week of ministry, psychology and missions majors from The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) in Graceville, joined together in a unique summer practicum in rural Noxubee County Mississippi. Known locally as “Camp Macon,” the week-long project has been a highlight of children and teens in the county since 2004, when the leaders of Lake Forest Ranch, the camp’s sponsor, sought a means “to bring love to the kids and youth of Macon for one week out of the summer, with hopes of reaching out in love the rest of the year.” To that end, teams of student missionaries, such as the team from BCF, are sent each morning to various sites across the county to hold Kid’s Camp, while teens from the region arrive by bus at the ranch for Sports Camp. In both settings, the goal is to provide fun, friendship, and fellowship with God. This year, more than 500 kids and teens participated with nearly 1000 in attendance for Friday night’s Family Night celebration.

BCF faculty and students first heard of the camp last fall when Lake Forest Ranch Director Rich Malone visited the Graceville campus. “I was so impressed with the reception I found in Graceville,” Malone commented. “I was blown away by all I saw at BCF. The students, the faculty, the whole environment had me asking how we might be able to partner with them in ministry.”

BCF Missions Professor Rich Elligson liked what he heard as well. “These are the kinds of practica we are looking for,” stated Elligson. “I could see the potential to expose our missions students to a variety of ministry areas. The camp itself, their outreach to local children and youth, their strong stand on the Bible and application of biblical principles to reach across racial, economic, and social divides, their long range plans for evangelism, discipleship, and leadership development; so many elements coming together in one place at one time seemed too good to pass up. And that was before Professor Ford showed up!”

In a surprise reunion during Malone’s visit to the BCF campus, Psychology Professor Kristy Ford spotted Malone across the room and recognized him from Lake Forest Ranch where she coincidentally served as a camp counselor back in 1994. As she listened to plans being made, she saw potential to include her psychology students as well.

“It turned out to be a great fit and incredible opportunity,” Ford commented. “While missions students would approach the project from a ‘big picture’ perspective, looking at logistics, camp administration, outreach strategies, group dynamics, etc., psychology students would approach the project from an individual, ‘up close and personal’ perspective, engaging individual participants in conversation, building relationships, and sharing one-on-one.” And according to Elligson, that’s exactly what took place.

Each morning, the BCF team split up and went to work. Professor Ford’s psychology students moved through the swarms of kids, typically zeroing in on those who either disrupted activities on the one hand, or those who seemed disconnected from activities on the other. “This gave our students the opportunity to sharpen their skills in identifying, engaging, and interacting with those kids who seemed most in need of personalized attention,” stated Ford. “Our students gained valuable experience, and the kids benefitted as well.”

In the meantime, Elligson’s missions students focused on the group dynamics, moving around frequently, jumping in where most needed, and attempting to get a taste of all the camp had to offer.

Highlighting each evening were class sessions that brought both mission students and psychology students together for Bible study, course instruction, and debriefing. “The class time was my favorite part of the day,” reflected Sophomore Ministry Major Cory Solomon. “The applications from God’s Word kept us focused on the ministry side of things, and the shared perspectives provided insights on the academic side of things; insights we may have otherwise missed.” Senior Psychology Major Matthew Murrell agreed, “I was hoping to work with kids one-on-one this week, and that’s what I got to do. But the give-and-take with the missions students everyday was an unexpected bonus.”

Elligson summed up the experience this way: “All of our practica are designed to sharpen skills learned in the classroom and to stretch our students in new areas. When all goes well, everybody wins. The student’s experience is enriched, the sponsoring organization gets some much needed help, and the people ministered to have their needs met. When those things happen, everybody is happy. When we can integrate disciplines - like we did at Camp Macon - it really is a bonus.”

To learn more about the missions and psychology degrees offered at The Baptist College of Florida, call 850.263.3261 ext. 460 or visit the website at www.baptistcollege.edu.