Since 1986, Uplift has welcomed students and guests from around the country to a week of worship, learning and community together on the University’s campus. For this year, the program’s 31st, they celebrated the theme “Greater.”
Dr. Andrew Baker, director of the Center for Leadership and Ministry, has been the Uplift director for 18 summers and said this year’s theme is an important concept for campers to understand.
“We wanted young people to see the way in which God plays such a great role in our lives and the belief that he desires to play an even greater role,” Baker said.
Uplift had three different one-week sessions for churches and youth groups to choose from. During the week, campers heard from speakers on a wide range of spiritual topics, gathered together for worship, and enjoyed building relationships among each other.
All three sessions of Uplift saw 1,554 campers and sponsors as well as 75 staff members who worked throughout each session to counsel campers and assist in the day-to-day operations of the camp.
In addition to their worship and devotional times, Uplift campers spent time reaching out to their communities by creating greeting cards to encourage and lift the spirits of hospital patients.
Baker said the transformation in the students from the beginning to the end of the week is what keeps him motivated and excited about the program every summer.
“To see transformations and decisions be made is what makes it so special,” Baker said. “A sponsor who has been coming for years was able to baptize his daughter this year. That is one of the main reasons we keep doing this.”
Wil Peery, a student from Madison, Mississippi, has been attending Uplift for several years and shared his thoughts with the Uplift staff. He said the profound discussions on the theme and forgiveness made this session of Uplift one he will never forget.
“I recently attended Uplift with the same expectations as previous years — to go and hear the same stuff I hear when meeting with my church group. I could not have been more wrong,” Peery said. “This year’s theme is what I needed to hear — that there was something greater for me to accomplish and a greater purpose in life.”