From Mountains to the Shore

By Richard Shipman

Ask an average teenager what they want from a trip to the shore, and they would probably answer, “sun, sea and chilling out.” But ask Emma from West Jefferson, North Carolina that same question, and she would answer, “to get closer to God.”

Emma was one of 8 campers (all girls) from The Gathering Church in the mountains of North Carolina who attended JAARS first CrossVenture|Coastal week at Fort Caswell on Oak Island, North Carolina.  This program is offered as a weekend or 6-day camp and is designed with several objectives: 

  • help young people grow in their faith 
  • teach campers basics of boating
  • introduce participants to the difficulties Bible translation teams have finding safe water-transport overseas
  • share how JAARS offers training and solutions to provide safe overwater travel
  • encourage young people to consider mission work
  • be a fun experience

During the week, the campers explored many aspects of boating:  knot tying, navigation, working together as a crew, nautical rules of the road, boat mechanics, chart reading, and more. Throughout the week, the lessons of boating were applied to principles of Christian life. For example, just as the North Star is a guiding light for mariners to navigate by, so is the Lord the guiding light of our lives. While learning all about boats and the sea, the campers were also introduced to missions and the critical role water transportation plays in facilitating Bible translation worldwide.

Fort Caswell on Oak Island, NC was the site of the first CrossVenture Coastal camp.

Not surprisingly for a group from the mountains, the boats and time at sea were highlights for the participants. One of them remarked how peaceful and tranquil the sea and stars were during the night sailing when the campers were introduced to celestial navigation. All the campers had the opportunity for helm-time (driving the boat!) and to function as crew members to cast off and dock the John B, a 36-foot open deck boat, and the smaller Century speedboat. There was also instruction in survival at sea and an introduction to the JAARS “ditch kit” which is a water survival package recommended for all Bible translation teams who must travel by water. The training included in-water simulated survival scenarios which were particularly helpful for one participant who confessed to some fear of deep water at the start of the week.

The John B is a 36-foot open deck boat that was the larger of two used at the camp.

 After each day’s activities were concluded, a staff member would give their personal testimony, sharing with the campers real life examples about how God can work in their lives.  There was also a sunrise quiet time and a morning devotional before breakfast.  Amy, one of the adults accompanying the group, made this observation at the end of the week: “The dedicated times of personal Bible study and prayer were so good for our girls, some of whom are new believers.” 

The schedule was full, and the pace was hectic, so the campers were rightfully proud when they received their “crew shirts” at the end of the week.  Did the camp meet its objectives? Feedback from the campers indicates a resounding “yes!”

Breanna: “My heart has grown for other people and their need for the gospel.”

Olivia: “There is a need for maritime missionaries that nobody seems to talk about. I would strongly suggest that they come to this camp —it’s just a great experience all around.”

Emma: “The camp area was so conducive to getting closer to God. My takeaway from the week was how important missions are. I am very interested in pursuing mission work.”

 Amy summarized the value of the course and the impact it had on her campers.

“The week at CrossVenture|Coastal was a time of growth for the teenage girls from our church. Several of them mentioned the impact it made on them to learn about the lack of resources available to many people around the world.  They also didn’t realize before our week at camp that there are so many people in the world who don’t have access to the Good News of the gospel. We thoroughly enjoyed our week at Caswell and look forward to future participation in the program!”

The campers and instructors from week one of the new JAARS CrossVenture Coastal Program.


For more information on the CrossVenture|Coastal programs and to register for one of the camps, click here: