NOXUBEE COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – Race. It’s a hot topic right now, and it’s something our country is trying to better understand.
One summer camp has been doing that for over a decade. Breaking barriers is what campers and counselors are taking away from Camp Macon.
Camp Macon is three things. Fun, growing in fellowship, and creating new friendships.
Camp Macon started 13 years ago with a vision to break race barriers between kids.
“Some southern white kids who don’t get to be around black kids a lot, to begin to understand a different culture, but also to help kids from Noxubee County, who really don’t get to be around white folks all that much, to get to know, I mean we wanted to break down some barriers. Break down some barriers culturally, and break down some barriers in some kids lives,” says Camp Macon Head Coach, Bill Reif.
It’s a place where stereotypes don’t exist, and color doesn’t matter
“We may like different music, but we still like music. We may like different sports, but we still like sports. We may like different food, but we still like food, and to discover the commonalities, to get out of the stereotypes that we have, which is killing us in our culture and our country,” says Reif.
Reif says learning to listen to each other is a giant part in growing together.
“We’re in a culture where we don’t mind telling people what we think, and what we believe. We just don’t listen to anybody else, and part of what these kids are learning is to, by Thursday and Friday, to really trust each other and begin to listen when they talk. I mean, you can’t love somebody if you don’t listen and hear their real perspectives.”
Emily Malone started as a camper in 2004, and 12 years later, she’s sharing those positive and heeling impacts she learned more than a decade ago.
“Generations of mindsets, and generations of hurt between racial boundaries, has been something we have seen broken here, and the Lord has done great work in the hearts of people that’s breaking history. Breaking just generational mindsets that maybe people have grown up hearing.”
Learning the value of life is why 4th year camper, Dathan Coleman, plans on coming back to the camp every summer that he can.
“When I first started coming, I just, well it took a while, but then I started to fit right in like it was nothing different. They just welcomed me in, and I welcomed them into my heart.”
Coleman raps Christian Music, which is one way he shares God’s love to others.
“My Christians, we’re tight like dreads, I ain’t kidding. ”
The camp is free for the week, and buses transport campers from across Noxubee County each day.
Almost 100 student missionaries from across the southeast come to help out with the camp.