Favorite meal at camp + why?
It’s a hard choice because the kitchen staff does such a phenomenal job. Everything is amazing, but I really enjoy the breakfast food, especially the sausage biscuits and gravy. Yum!
How did you decide to go on KDSM?
Honestly, King’s Domain wasn’t originally my first choice. I thought I needed to find a project where I could get a job and make money over the summer. I also wanted to find something “cheap” so that I wouldn’t have to raise as much support. God had different plans, however. He opened my eyes to the fact that it isn’t about me. It’s not about the money or the job. Instead, it was about the kids with whom I would spend time and share the gospel. That’s what pushed me over the edge. I heard about King’s Domain from a friend who had gone before, and I liked what she had to say. I love working with kids, and sure enough, King’s Domain was the perfect place for me!
What did you learn by raising support?
Raising support to go on KDSM was definitely a step of faith for me. Actually, it was more like a LEAP of faith. I’d never done anything like it, and I was totally freaked out. I had so many questions. To whom should I send letters? How would they react? I didn’t know if anyone, or even my parents, would support me. There were times when I didn’t think any money was going to come in, and I even doubted that I was supposed to go on project at all. But sure enough, God provided big time for me, and I was able to raise more than I needed!
Why invest a summer serving at a camp?
It was a blessing to share the love of Christ to each and every camper I had this summer. I was able to show kids love they’d never experienced due to their living environments. It breaks my heart knowing what some of these kids go through at home, so being able to give them a simple hug or a high five was a gift. I was challenged each week, and God helped me get through those difficulties and shine His light to all of the kids. I will never forget one kid in particular who told me that I was like a father to him, just from that one week alone. Things like that made the whole summer worth it! That experience changed how I treat others because I now understand that, even though I have no idea what they’re going through, I can let them know that God loves them!
How did the teaching during KDSM impact and equip you?
I usually don’t journal much, but this summer I took notes on every talk because each speaker’s message was powerful and meaningful. I still go back and look at my journal during my quiet times and read about what God did this summer and what God is continuing to do in my life now. We didn’t just minister to the kids that came to King’s Domain — we were also being ministered to. Wendel (KD’s president and CEO) has so much wisdom, and Doug Pollock’s talks on evangelism were incredibly helpful. I had always been afraid to share my faith, but after Doug taught us to listen first and speak later, I overcame that fear.
Talk to us about community.
I made lifelong friendships on project. Nothing beats rooming with nine strangers in a “primitive cabin” on the first day of project and those strangers becoming brothers that same day! Whenever I needed prayer or just wanted to talk, they were there. Not to mention all of the inside jokes, silly songs, and midnight Taco Bell runs. I am blessed to be able to have these friends as a result of the amazing community I experienced this summer.
How have you seen yourself change because of KDSM?
I had always enjoyed working with kids, but the camp counselor role was a new challenge. There were a couple of sleepless nights because the kids loved to chat, but at the end of the summer, those sleepless nights didn’t matter because those kids were learning that God loved them! Over the course of the summer, I felt a huge increase in my passion for working with kids. I love it!
How has your relationship with God changed?
Patience was the theme of my summer! I thought I was a patient person before KDSM. God challenged me significantly, and I had to lean on Him more than ever before. During the support-raising process, I grew impatient because no money was coming in, but sure enough, after prayer and patience, God provided! During the weeks that I had rough kids in my cabin, I was almost ready to give up, but God gave me the patience to get through those weeks and remember to love those children no matter what. I was forced to lean on Him for help and let Him take control.
Can you summarize your KD experience?
Probably the best summer of my life! I wasn’t expecting to meet some lifelong friends, eat amazing food, or stay in nice dorms, all of which were a blessing. The kids that I got to lead were a ton of fun, and teaching them about Jesus was awesome! God really tugged at my heart during my experience on KDSM, and He taught things about myself that I didn’t even know. I learned that it is not about me, but about Him! After a summer full of growth, gaga, seconds, silly songs, crud wars, campouts, amazing food, and lifelong friendships, I can say this summer was amazing!
Why should someone consider KDSM?
You should go on KDSM because it’s literally life-changing — not just for you, but for the kids to whom you minister. You get the opportunity to make lifelong friendships with people you just met and to be an encouraging adult figure to kids who might not have that role model at home. You get to show God’s love each and every day at KDSM to your peers and children. You will experience the best community, growth, and summer of your life!
Chris “Chippy” Hartman
University of Toledo
Early Childhood Education