#WhyISummerfest | Jared Mellema

I attended my very first Summerfest as a 7th-grade student about 15 years ago. I vividly remember the experience being intensely transformational in my spiritual journey. The authentic worship, purposeful community, and investment of adult leaders were foundational to my faith experience in the middle school phase.

I continued to attend Summerfest each year as a student and it never failed to recharge my spiritual journey and feed my soul in unexpected ways. During Summerfest of my senior year, I remember thinking, “I’m really going to miss this so much!”. Turns out, I haven’t missed one yet!

As I transitioned from a student experiencing camp, to planning and leading camp myself, I’ve gotten to see even more stories of life transformation through God’s work at Summerfest. Each and every year, His Spirit is at work, and His presence is strong.

When I think back on my years attending camp as a student, there are a lot of memories that flood my mind. I remember the activities, the worship, the teaching, the late-night antics.

Most of all though, I remember the relationships. I remember the leaders who said yes to investing in me. Some of these leaders were Jerry Howard, Jay Minnick, Kevin Sanders, Charles Small, John Alvarez, and many others. The investment of these men helped shaped my camp experience, and ultimately who I am today.

As I continue to lead Summerfest each year, I never grow tired of seeing spiritual transformation through the investment of discipleship. This is what Paul encourages towards in 1 Corinthians 11:1 which says, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”