At the beginning of this year we launched a new feature here at The Touring Camper that highlights ways campers, RVers, hikers, backpackers, or outdoor enthusiasts can get involved in service opportunities and give back to their communities. This month we are showcasing Campers on Mission (COM). COM webmaster Glenn and Eileen Ansley shared a little bit about the work volunteers are accomplishing through this ministry:
Tell me a little bit about the history of COM; when and why did it start? In 1972, personnel from the Sunday School Board and the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention invited camping families from all over the United States to attend an organizational rally in Kentucky. Approximately 100 families attended and Campers on Mission was born. The purpose of the organization was “to bear witness to the saving power of Jesus Christ, to communicate through word and deed to the good life in Christ, and to be genuine and sensitive in our relations with other people.” Initially, the emphasis was in resort/campground ministries, vacation bible school, and backyard bible clubs.
Now COM is a multi-denominational organization and has expanded its scope to include many other types of projects. Our motto is, “Serving Jesus as we go.”
Where do volunteers with COM work and serve? All around the U.S. or in particular regions? COM volunteers work and serve in most states of the U. S., including Alaska and Hawaii.
Who can volunteer with COM? Are there certain requirements? In order to be a volunteer with COM, a person needs to be a follower of Jesus and have an interest in missions and volunteering. Most COM members have campers of some type but there are some projects where housing is provided. We encourage people of all ages to join us; seniors, working age adults, and families.
If a full-time RVing family with children wanted to be part of COM, would there be opportunities for the whole family to serve? Absolutely. We believe that children exposed to missions will have a heart for missions as adults.
How much time must volunteers commit to serve? There is not a set amount of time that volunteers must commit. Some people may only be able commit to a weekend or a week in a year; others volunteer 10 or more months of the year.
What type of work do COM volunteers usually do? Are there projects for all skill levels and health restrictions? There is work for everyone in COM. Examples of projects include:
- Maintenance, new construction, housekeeping, food prep, etc., at camp or conference centers;
- Building or renovating a church;
- Fair and festival ministries;
- Port ministries;
- Resort ministries;
- Vacation Bible schools.
Where do COM team members live and park their camper during the projects? For most projects, camper hookups are provided on site.
Can you share a highlight or special moment from the work COM did this past year? With hundreds of projects each year, it is difficult to choose one special moment. That being said, at a fair ministry in Florida, a young man walked in, high on meth and in a desperate situation. Six or seven volunteers poured their lives into him for the next week and a half. It was a precious moment, 10 days or so later, 10 days without meth, to see a different young man walk out with the son of one of our volunteers, headed to rehab, a tough time ahead of him, but now with hope in a God he had forgotten.
Is there anything else you would like to highlight about COM? There are COM chapters in many states across the U.S. To get more information, go to www.campersonmission.net and look under “Chapter Information.” Our 2016 national rally is June 8-10 in Springfield, Mo.
Thank you Glenn and Eileen for sharing about the work COM volunteers are doing! If you are interested in finding out more about this ministry, please visit the COM website.