Beginning in the earliest stages of Tuscarora’s ministry, the annual incoming of the Conference Center’s youngest and freshest employees has always heralded our busiest and most exciting time of year. Although it has evolved since its start, the Tuscarora Summer Staff program has withstood the test of time and continues to remain a unique and vital piece of our mission and legacy.
“I’ve been coming to Tuscarora since I was a kid for Leisure Week and Junior Week and Teen Week. My friend was on Staff for the previous two summers, and she told me what a great experience it was, and how many great friends can be made. I thought it sounded really great, so I wanted to be a part of it.” – Olivia, Summer Staff 2017
The Summer Staff program itself is engineered to help those teenagers involved grow and learn and bond through their time at work, at prayer, and at play. With its track record of countless teenagers who have decided to come back during their off-school season, there is no doubt the program has succeeded at fulfilling its purpose. More often than not, the teens find that they discovered something about themselves or their faith that they did not even realize they were searching for. If you watch them for long enough, it is easy to see how much God works in their lives while they spend the summer together. Some of the most profound moments between the Staffers occur when they share Devotional time, or pray together by the river, or sing worship songs together during their Large Group sessions. The counselors take their responsibility to uphold the message of the Gospel and to lead their Staffers in the ways of Christ very seriously, and it shows in Staffers’ attitudes year after year.
“Counseling teenagers is what I want to do with my future, so I was very thankful they had me here to be a counselor last year, and that they had me back again. Tuscarora has been a very special place in my life, and it’s done a lot for me, so I want to give back and show others how much of a difference it can make for them.” – Caleb, Summer Staff 2017
As a former staffer myself (2012 – 2013), I know firsthand how Summer Staff helped me blossom, and am delighted with every passing summer that I watch more kids return and be introduced to the Staff family. I use the word “family” without hesitation to describe the relationship that bonds the Staffers together. There is no other word for it. The kinship that forms between each session’s collection of teens is a strong and fast-happening one. Over the three to seven weeks that they could spend on campus, the Staffers spend practically every moment together. At work, they share responsibility; at time with Christ, they remember to pray for one another; at free time, they laugh and make memories that will tether them together when they go their separate ways.
“I was most looking forward to coming back to Staff because I could be with my friends again from last summer, and I would be able to make friends with the new Staffers I’d meet.” – Alyssa
Even now, watching them as an adult and as a dining room hostess is an experience in and of itself that I treasure. The bonding that occurs between these teens – some of who were strangers before the summer – is a phenomenon that never gets old. It helps me remember the best moments and shenanigans I shared with my Staff mates, and it is something that is shared by most of the full-time and year-round employees, as many of them began their journey at Tuscarora through Summer Staff. I know it will continue its purpose for many years to come. Summer Staff has become an intrinsic piece of life on the Tuscarora campus; it is a life-changing experience that I know anyone involved would not trade for the world.
“I love it here! I made such good memories and friends last summer; I wanted to come back because I had a craving for it. This place is just magical.” – Alice, Summer Staff 2017