St. John’s Bible school educates youth

Published 3:40 pm Saturday, June 21, 2008

Stephanie Christensen and Megan Meyer are teaching a crafts class inside St. John’s Lutheran Church on Austin’s northwest side.

Outside, Ben Schrank has just signaled “safe” during a kickball game. Groans mix with cheers greet the umpire’s call on the Northwest Diamond baseball infield.

In the shade of a nearby tree sits Justin Pinotti, relaxing after a spirited game of tag on the playground in the park.

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Kids swarm over him like puppies vying for attention.

Four young adults caught in the act of trying to make a difference in the lives of children who can’t go to camp this summer.

No problem. Camp came to them.

The activities were captured on the last day of Vacation Bible School Thursday, June 19, at the church about to celebrate its centennial.

The week slipped away quickly. Four college-age students from Camp Omega at Waterville came to St. John’s Lutheran Church to share their counseling skills.

The host families were “terrific,” said the students. The students were likewise, said their supervisor.

“It’s been a great experience,” said Troy Miller, director of Christian education at St. John’s Lutheran Church. “I think the kids have really appreciated their energy and their youthfulness and the talents they brought to us.”

The college students were actually ambassadors for Camp Omega, a Christian retreat facility and summer camp, serving a wide variety of Christian and community groups.

Schrank, 21, attends Concordia College at Irvine, Calif. His family is from Arizona.

“All four of us are camp counselors at Camp Omega and this is a day camp program,” Schrank said. “We offer day camp programs to some kids who otherwise couldn’t afford to go to summer camp.”

The day camp was made an extension of St. John’s VBS program.

Either on-site at Camp Omega or on-the-road to churches, the counselors take Omega’s mission to children and teens, offering a high-quality, Jesus-centered, relationship-building ministry to children and teens.

At St. John’s, the older students were sharing with students in grades 1 through 6. In the morning they served preschool and kindergarten agents.

Schrank is studying theology and anthropology in college. At day camp, kids were studying him.

“With the kids here, it’s been great getting to know them,” Schrank said. “We’re trying to build relationships and get people excited about God.”

The son of a Lutheran pastor, Schrank has been attending camps since he was a child.

He said the most important lesson he sought to impart on the St. John’s children last week was “just the joy that comes from knowing God and knowing that God is living and active in our lives daily.”