Illinois Camper Discovers Mississippi College
June 7, 2012
Growing up in the Southern Illinois Corn Belt, Adam Healy never heard of Mississippi College.
That’s the case for most folks living near the cornfields in farming communities five hours south of Chicago. But that changed in a hurry when Healy, then 15, joined members of his church attending an MFuge summer camp at MC.
“It was so hot, so miserable, but it was great,” Healy said of his first exposure to summer in the Magnolia State. “I remember the camp counselors who made me fall in love with the atmosphere, and I wanted to be here. It was not like my home church camp.”
The unexpected Mississippi College visit opened doors for the “Yankee” to transfer from tiny Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg and enroll at the Baptist-affiliated university in Clinton. “I ended up checking out MC because it’s a Christian university and I remembered how much fun it was.”
Today, Healy is a 23-year-old Mississippi College senior working on the university’s summer camp support staff. From maintenance calls to taking care of water coolers every day to checking on campers in residence halls every night, he keeps busy from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m.
Healy is a seasoned church camp leader in the United States and abroad, including work as a counselor at an MFuge camp in Ecuador. MFuge is among many Christian camps under the umbrella of Nashville-based LifeWay.
Equipped with plumbing and construction skills, Adam also joined Illinois church members helping with the recovery for residents of Gulf Shores, Alabama following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The MC senior remembers repairing roofs in Arizona when scorching temperatures rose to 116 degrees.
But his first summer trip to Mississippi College ago will always be special. Just getting here from the Land of Lincoln isn’t easy. It’s an eight-hour drive from Carmi, Illinois to Clinton, Mississippi.
His mother, Diane Healy, a school teacher, accompanied Healy and about 22 others in the delegation from First Baptist Church in Carmi. His father, Dave Healy, a church deacon, was working at an Illinois bank and couldn’t make the trip to America’s second oldest Baptist college.
Once the two dozen Illinois visitors exited their church vans, there was time for Bible study, worship services, athletic activities, noisy lunches in the cafeteria, and much more. It’s the same script every June and July. More than 5,000 children from 14 states will attend MC camps in 2012.
Asked to name his favorite part of summer camp, Healy enjoys the worship services. But it’s not just that.
“Hearing the results of saved students and students called into the ministry,” Healy said in early June at Nelson Hall. “I love the results of this experience.”
He praises the team of camp leaders including continuing education director Ken Gilliam, program coordinator Cheli Brunson, and dozens of counselors.
“This year the staff is great. I love the guys and girls – they are strong Christians.”
A history major and Christian Studies minor, Healy plans to go into the mission field after he graduates from Mississippi College in May 2013. He may visit places like Haiti and Africa in the International Mission Board’s journeyman program.
Healy credits his Christian Studies professors, including Wayne VanHorn, Roger Greene, and Ivan Parke for helping build his faith and knowledge of the Bible.
But getting used to living in the South came with adjustments for Healy, a fan of Illinois teams and Big Ten Conference football. Mississippi is in the heart of the powerful Southeastern Conference. Some friends down South notice his Northern accent.
Rather than talk about the popularity of sweet corn in Southern Illinois compared with sweet tea in Mississippi, Healy needed to return to work. “It is demanding – there’s a lack of sleep, you go all the time,” the Illinois native said. “But it’s good to be behind the scenes.”
For more information on MC’s summer camps, contact Continuing Education Director Ken Gilliam at 601.925.3264 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Photo: Adam Healy