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Campers on Mission do what they are called to do

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

For nearly two decades, volunteers from North Carolina Campers on Mission (NCCOM) have given of their time to help with the annual Food Roundup, benefiting boys and girls of Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH). NCCOM offers their members planned service opportunities as well as plenty of time for fellowship while on mission across North Carolina and in other states. During the Food Roundup, NCCOM volunteers help process thousands of food items and cleaning and paper products donated every year and stored at Broyhill Home, Mills Home, Kennedy Home, and Cameron Boys Camp, logging thousands of hours of service.

“We embrace the children by serving,” says Ellen Dean Saunders. “We believe God gives them to us to love. We see them as our children and want to do anything we can to help.” Ellen Dean and James Saunders’ history with BCH began in the 1970s. The couple attended Cherryfield Baptist Church near Brevard. BCH cottage parents Cloe and Kyle Crowe were in the Saunders’ Sunday school class. The class produced an annual Christmas party for the Crowe’s cottage at Broyhill Home in Clyde.

When the Saunders joined First Baptist Church Brevard in 1980, they approached their daughter Anna’s youth minister and proposed the youth group become involved. The youth minister did more by challenging the whole church to produce a Christmas party for the entire Broyhill Home campus. The church agreed, and for the last 42 Christmases they have provided a hot dog meal, presents for every child, and needed items for cottages.

“It is not Christmas for James and me until we have celebrated Christmas with our Broyhill Home family,” says Ellen Dean.

James coordinates the NCCOM efforts at Broyhill Home with cottage parents Betty and Will Porter. He helps collect food from nearby churches using his truck and box trailer. “It’s a lot of hard work,” says James. “But everything we do, we do ‘as working for the Lord.’ It’s what missions is all about.”

For Bill Wilson, missions has always been a part of his life. His grandparents were missionaries. “In Campers on Mission, we serve as we go,” says Wilson. “We work behind the scenes helping. What we do at Cameron Boys Camp (CBC) helps the Chiefs and workers spend more time with the boys. It’s what they are called to do. And we do what we are called to do.”

Bill and his wife Betty have been involved at CBC by helping during the Food Roundup since 2006. Marsha Powell helps out at CBC and Mills Home. “My late husband Butch and I helped with the Food Roundup when it began. I still come every year, driving myself.” NCCOM volunteers arrive at Mills Home and start organizing boxes and bags of groceries. They count everything and shelve it by category. Before leaving, the place is cleaned and left spotless.

This year, volunteers put in more than 1,300 hours of service at the

Thomasville campus. Campers on Mission do more than volunteer. The volunteer groups form strong bonds with each other. When

Marsha’s son passed away in 2017, 53 members came to his memorial service. Some drove more than four hours to attend.

“We are as close as brothers and sisters. We share lots of laughs, but we share tears, too. When I walked into the service for my son and saw the sea of Campers on Mission blue vests, I realized just how much we love each other.” Campers on Mission work together to bring glory to God and are committed to do more together than they could ever do apart from each other.

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Written by Jim Edminson, Editor of Charity & Children

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