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Nate finds his calling as a chief

Updated: Jun 26

The Spain family knew Nate's mom and dad. The families attend the same church, each family in leadership roles. Nadine Spain had watched Nate Lucas grow up. He was active in church and led worship at children's summer camp. She was impressed how he interacted with the boys and girls. His heart for others was evident as he helped with high school and young adult ministries. Nadine also knew Nate was at a crossroads and was seeking God's direction.

The Fayetteville native struggled with future plans. Nate had dreamed of serving in the military like his father and grandfathers. When that door closed, he turned in a couple of directions, but each time he came to a dead end. Becoming a volunteer firefighter seemed to hold promise. When he became a full-time employee, he felt like his life was coming together.

"I had three dear family members die in six months, and it hurt," he recalls. "As a firefighter, I saw things that were troubling. There were times when after all you do to save someone, it isn't enough. Their loss becomes your pain. I began to feel numb."

After two and a half years, Nate walked away from the fire department and crew he had grown to love. He felt like a failure again. "I realized I was doing everything on my own—determined to find my way with or without God. I felt like Jonah in the whale."

The Spains knew about Cameron Boys Camp. They had been there and saw firsthand how Camp was making a difference in boys' lives. Knowing the Lucas family, and connecting the dots, Nadine thought Nate needed to learn more about Camp and explore the possibility of becoming a Chief.

At Baptist Children's Homes' (BCH) wilderness camps, there are three counselors/teachers, known as Chiefs, who provide the primary care and leadership for a group of 10 girls or boys. Chiefs serve as Christian role models and facilitate a group process where problems are resolved as they arise in a caring, helpful, and Christ-centered way.

Chiefs at Camp Duncan for Girls and Cameron Boys Camp live in partnership with the campers, teaching positive behavior patterns, discipline, and self-worth. They are passionate about Jesus and have a heart to serve. Chiefs feel called to help hurting young women and men.

The Spains invited Nate and his parents to last year's Turkey in the Hole event at the boys camp. The annual Thanksgiving celebration would be the perfect opportunity for Nate to meet the boys and learn more about the program.

"I was able to see what they were doing and was immediately drawn to the campers," Nate remembers. "I liked the outdoors and the possibilities of adventure. I loved everything but thought, "What if I fail again?"

Chief Drew Scott, the Camp's director, met with the Lucas family and encouraged Nate to apply. Nate's heart lifted as he considered becoming a Chief, but he wrestled with his past. He pushed his fear away and placed his trust in God, turning in his application at the end of December. Nate knew in his heart, Camp was where God was leading him.

Nate stopped running from his past. His trials had shaped and molded him into someone God could use. He was now intent on being a Chief, showing the boys a glimpse of God's great love.

"People like the Spains who know young men who are looking for meaningful service and are willing to introduce them to Camp has led us to recent meaningful hires—young men like Chief Nate," Chief Scott says.

Camp gives boys a second chance. Nate believes he has found his second chance, too. He finished his first official week as Chief on May 17, convinced more than ever he is in the right place.

Do you know someone who might be a good Chief? Visit to learn more.

Written by Jim Edminson, Editor of Charity & Children

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