Ministry Moment- Jillian Sisson

When I first heard the gravel crunching underneath the car as we turned onto the unpaved road leading to camp as my mom dropped me off for my first summer on staff at Pilgrim Pines, I felt a whole swarm of butterflies in my stomach. I didn't know what to expect from this new place; I had never been a camper or spent a summer there. What I didn't know at that time was the simple turn onto W Shore Road was going to be a defining change in direction for my life. Throughout the four summers that I spent working beside that beautiful lake, I experienced growth professionally, relationally, and spiritually.

I now work as a pediatric neurosurgery nurse in Chicago, and I'm in love with my job and my little patients. When I was interviewing for this job, I was able to answer many of the questions regarding teamwork and leadership with stories from my time at camp. Mayflower staff taught me the importance of collaborating with others to accomplish a task-whether that be pulling off a Wednesday night program, making fools of ourselves at the Sunday night variety show, or leading a meaningful time of worship on Thursday. Camp fostered my leadership abilities as I spent a couple summers in a director role, and I learned the value of working hard for something you're passionate about, and the benefits that abound.

Relationally, I grew exponentially. More than I thought was possible on my first day at camp that summer in 2012 as I looked around the circle of some familiar but mostly new faces and wondered where I would fit in! The friendships that I developed over those four summers are relationships that continue to this day. Camp cultivates an environment that invites vulnerability and genuineness. I felt accepted and loved in my brokenness, and therefore I wanted to extend that invitation of grace to everyone around me.

Lastly, and most importantly, the spiritual growth that I experienced has changed the way that I walk with God on a daily basis. I experienced God in the physical environment of camp as I sat by the foggy, quiet lake in the morning or laid on the golf course looking at the stars at night or took a walk around the lake on a beautiful day. I was encouraged by the multiple Spirit-led weekly speakers, by the Thursday night sessions and deeper conversations, and by small children proclaiming their faith during culmination. Through these experiences, I developed a deeper and more personal relationship with my Creator. My summers at Pilgrim Pines have greatly impacted me, and I couldn't be more thankful!