Meet Hannah Pressey. After participating in Camping and Retreat Ministries' ELI program in 2011, Hannah played a large role in rejuvenating her church's children's ministry.
"Her enthusiasm and skill from what she brought back from Glisson lit a fire under many adults who had grown weary and discouraged. ... Now the children's ministry program is not short on help, funds, or children," said Hannah's mother, Ann, about her daughters experience.
The Experiential Leadership Institute Program is designed for rising 11th-12th graders who will benefit from gaining leadership experience before leaving home for college.
Just as summer camp is guided by the understanding that faith can only be grown as it is practiced, ELI believes that leadership cannot be nurtured without the opportunity to lead. So after a week of leadership theory and skills training, each participant serves one or more weeks as a Day Camp Counselor, putting newly acquired skills to practice. After finishing the program, participants commit to work with their pastor to find a leadership role at their church.
This year, as a junior, Hannah was encouraged by adults to become president of the church Youth Group because of her skills at leading and modeling group discussions and behavior.
Hannah's pastor at Winterville UMC, Rev. Tac Coley, recalled when Hannah first came to him about the leadership program: "She was really excited. I could sense that she was excited about more than just coming to camp -- that she sensed a calling to ministry to children."
Rev. Coley also recalled sending her off that first year saying, "We want to help you to go and explore the possibility of becoming a leader not only at this church or at camp, but wherever you go in life."
Looking back now, Rev. Coley commented on the difference he's observed in Hannah.
"I have been able to see her over the last few years grow in her ability to be more of a guide. She does things with an assuring tone of voice, but at the same time she's more of a guide than a drill sergeant. She leads in a very kind, gentle, and yet assertive way that the children respond to. It almost makes me want to fall in line along with them. She's the kind of leader you'd love to have leading you."
Glisson has made room for more ELI participants than ever in 2013.
Applications are still being accepted. Make sure the rising 11-12 graders you know are aware of this powerful program. Find more at www.glisson.org/eli.