By Sarah Pride; pictures by Art Cox
Patrick Henry College
Meredith Schultz (R) receives the Beverly LaHaye Award for Leadership from Dr. Laura McCollum at the 2009 Commencement exercises
“I wish,” she uttered solemnly, “that I could give you all a lens to see unseen things. To see how God sees as we are living and loving here on Earth.”
Shortly thereafter, Schultz and all the other fresh graduates packed their bags and departed—Schultz to assist her father with his medical relief organization in Guatemala. The recipient of the Beverly LaHaye Award for Leadership had prepared herself mentally for this change for several months.
Or so she thought. To her chagrin, the position fell through, leaving Schultz to walk out her own words—living an unknown future. When a part-time position as Executive Assistant to the PHC President and Provost opened, she applied and was accepted. When Dominique Deming, the PHC camps director for 2010, asked if Schultz would like to manage a leadership & vocation camp, she accepted that responsibility as well.
At the end of the last session of June’s Leadership & Vocation Camp, the roomful of high-school students didn’t want to leave. One after another, they expressed how much they had learned from their week. Almost unanimously, they wondered if the camp could be offered again.
“Of all the camps, this is probably the most important,” stated Nathan Yessler, who has attended many PHC teen camps over the last few years. “[Leadership Camp] teaches you about living life!”
“All of the camps this week,” added Matthew Arnold, another camper, “—Art Camp and Mock Trial, too—offer such fundamental skills. But you don’t often find a group of people with such common purpose.”
Meredith Schultz and Dominique Deming lead a session of Leadership & Vocation Camp
Then they turned to Schultz. “It wouldn’t have been the same without you, ‘Queen’ Meredith!” exclaimed Noelle G, using the nickname the students had given their camp leader. In response, all Schultz could do was utter a simple “thank you!”
“I don’t see myself as an exceptional scholar,” said Schultz later. “I’m more of a facilitator. God gave the grace for me to rise to the occasion and help the students bring out ideas. And they made me want to be a better woman, to meet their expectations.”
Leadership Camp offered an excellent slate of speakers and topics, including PHC Provost Dr. Gene Edward Veith, who kicked off the week with an explanation of vocation. Recalls Schultz, he explained how “God is hidden in our vocations, and Christ is hidden in our neighbors.” In other words, when Christians work together in harmony, they really are ministering to each other with the power of God, whether as plumbers or as pastors.
As the week continued, students studied one leader each afternoon—Martin Luther, William Wilberforce, George Washington, and Mother Theresa. One lecture after another emphasized the value to a leader of cultivating wisdom, service, and faith. A leader requires wisdom to understand how the world fits together and what the current time needs, a heart of service to step out first to help others, and faith to sacrifice himself or herself for an eternal purpose.
“I was amazed to see how much the speakers complemented each other, even though we hadn’t discussed beforehand how to reinforce common themes,” marvelled Schultz. “All truth finds its unity in God.”
Indeed, Leadership & Vocation Camp seems a perfect fit for Patrick Henry College, which has adopted the theme, “Where leaders go.” College leaders formulated a Philosophy of Education that provides a vision for PHC students to develop wisdom by studying a wide core curriculum that touches on many different disciplines, all centred on Christ. With that foundation, it is hoped, they are better equipped to grow into their life vocations through work and service.
Leadership & Vocation campers during a lecture
At week’s end, the campers enjoyed a field trip into Washington, D.C., and met with Rep. Michele Bachmann on the steps of the U.S. House of Representatives. And as an additional high point, on Wednesday Mr. Timothy Goeglein, Washington, D.C. lobbyist for Focus on the Family, paid a visit to the camp and recounted his years of experience working for public officials—including former President Bush from 2001-2008 in the White House Office of Public Liaison.
“I have been blessed to work with the princes of this land,” noted Goeglein, but with a sober humility. After years of dedicated service, day in and day out, he resigned from his job in the White House in 2008 because he had plagiarized portions of the free columns he had written for a local hometown paper back in Texas. When asked by his student audience why he had plagiarized, he attributed it to “pride, the same thing that always motivates us to sin.” He recommended that leaders always find strong accountability and hold themselves up to the transparent scrutiny of a close circle. He also highlighted the power of forgiveness from his former boss, President Bush, and the redemption and grace that brought him to his current position at Focus.
“It was amazing to hear about principles we’ve been learning lived out in an actual life,” shared camper Kayla Zimmerman.
To live out principles for themselves, campers and counsellors spent the afternoon of their D.C. field trip at a homeless ministry named S.O.M.E. (So Others May Eat), weeding the background of the ministry’s guest home.
“I was humbled by how joyfully and diligently the campers and counselors worked. It was a great way to get them out of the classroom, working with their hands,” said Schultz.
Without a doubt, the experimental Leadership & Vocation camp proved a success. Camp directors will step back and assess its viability for future years.