IDENTIFY, Retreat Coordinator
Brent Barkey, a lifelong guest, volunteer, and overall fan of Tuscarora gives you a glimpse of his story below. Get to know him, and why he's excited to be a part of this year's Young Adult Retreat.
1. When did you first come to Tuscarora?
I was a Junior Week camper, way back in the dinosaur ages of the 90s. I went there knowing a few people from my church, never imagining how much Tuscarora would change my life over the 20 years that would follow.
2. What different roles have you held? Do you have a favorite?
I've been involved in SO many of Tuscarora's ministries and in SO many ways that I honestly don't think I can list all of them! A Junior Week camper and counselor, a Teen Week camper and counselor, Summer Staffer, Summer Staff Head Counselor, Leisure Week volunteer, Winter Weekend counselor and staff, and so many more! I may hold the record!
3. What sort of impact has Tuscarora had on your life?
It would be an understatement to say Tuscarora has helped my faith. I truly believe my relationship with God wouldn't be as strong as it is without the relationships that have been built over time there. God brought so many people into my life through this place which has altered my life for the better - and that never would have been possible without the ministries they offer.
4. What is your favorite memory from your time at Tuscarora?
I have too many funny memories to share, but one of my absolute favorites was a night the dining hall had flooded from a huge storm. We had to wake up in the middle of the night to clear out the water before breakfast. Everyone was in a terrible mood from not being able to sleep, but we were determined to make the best of it. With this in mind, we basically turned the whole dining hall into a slip and slide, and we were sliding around in the middle of the night, and laughing harder than you could believe.
I have a very vivid memory of being on Summer Staff, and after a particularly hard day, our counselors noticed that we were all struggling and overtired. They took us for a walk together to the basketball courts where we sat, talked, prayed, and sang worship songs. I remember feeling a sense of community like never before. Everyone sitting with me in that moment felt like a family. God did so much more than refresh my tired soul from that day, but showed me the importance of community and worship, and how it can bring people together, even in hard times.
5. What unique experiences have you had because of Tuscarora that another person may not have experienced?
During my time in college, I was moving around a lot, due to internships and other jobs. I was moving to a city where I had never lived before, and had no idea what I was going to do. Without even asking, an old friend from Summer Staff called me and invited me to move in to save money. To me, that shows how strong the bonds of Tuscarora are. It builds a friendship so strong that you can welcome them into your home as more than just a guest, and continue to build a relationship.
Not only that, but my experiences at Tuscarora helped me meet diverse people of different backgrounds. This helped me to learn about how each individuals testimony is unique, and our life stories can often be our biggest tool. By living in an environment like this I was able to learn how to defend my own faith.
6. Who is someone from a Tuscarora experience that has impacted your life that you wouldn’t have met otherwise?
I remember a Teen Week counselor, Dave, who has the honor of being part of my life during my most awkward teenage years. I had no idea who I was and where I stood. He did something so simple that taught me so much: he sat with me, listened to me, and prayed with me. He loved being the center of attention, and owning a room, but he was also open and honest about what he believed. Even though I didn't really want to sit and discuss my faith with someone who I barely knew, he showed me the benefit of learning other people's perspectives and learning to view life, and faith, through another's eyes.
After we were done praying, he told me how thankful he was for talking and praying together, and told me he loved learning about faith from me. I immediately thought: What on earth would I have to offer, as someone who has no idea what I'm doing with my faith?! I thought I was learning so much from HIM! Testimonies can change lives, if you take the time to hear them, no matter who you are.
7. What do you think makes Tuscarora a special place?
Tuscarora is a safe, but fun place to explore your faith. Not only does Tuscarora make you feel welcome, it gives you a sense of purpose, and a sense of caring that you don't get anywhere else.
8. Is there anything that you are excited about in Tuscarora’s future?
I love to see Tuscarora taking the time to find new ways to engage Christians and further their faith. I know they will be a big part of not only my life, but the life of my family as well.