When Leslie’s friends invited her to summer camp through Grace Church, she was excited. It would be her first time at a summer camp. She expected to have a blast swimming, roasting marshmallows and playing games. What she didn’t expect was to have her whole view of God turned upside, but that’s exactly what happened.

“I grew up going to church every now and then. I went to a Sunday School, but I just saw Him as in the distance. I didn’t know that I could have a personal relationship with God.” As the first couple of days at camp unrolled, she began to see a whole different picture the more she learned from her camp counselors.

“At camp, I learned that God is personally involved in people’s lives, so the perception that God isn’t personal–that completely changed for me because I understood that He was personal and that there’s no striving we can do that will perfectly fix our relationship with God. Jesus was the only one that could do that.”

Leslie continues, “That was a big moment of understanding for me. I decided to follow Jesus.”

In the years following, she says she returned to camp because of the chances it gave her to focus on growing in her faith: “It’s a really sweet time because it’s a retreat from everything. Otherwise, you busy yourself with all the media things that we have around us, so we sensory overload. At camp, you have that time.”

Her time there has made such a lasting impact on her, she even decided to become a camp counselor after graduating high school. “In practical things, it’s taught me how to spend time in reading my Bible or spend time in memorizing verses and why that’s important.”

Looking back, she’s glad her friends invited her to camp and glad she decided to go. “I hadn’t really been part of Grace Church at all [before camp], and I took that leap, but people are super welcoming and all the counselors are super loving, and it made it so that I had a relationship with God, and that wouldn’t have happened [without camp].”

Learn more about camp here!