“God first, others second, I’m third.” Junior Will Carroll said this is the motto he strives to fulfill. Carroll has been attending Kanakuk Kamp in Lampe, Missouri for almost a decade; he said that he credits this camp for having a key part in his personal testimony.
According to the camp’s website, Kanakuk “is an overnight summer camp for kids ages 12-18 that combines the non-stop action of a sports camp with opportunities to worship and get closer to God with new friends from all over the country.”
However, for Carroll, the camp means much more. “It has deeply strengthened my relationship with Christ and created memories and bonds. It’s brought Katie [my sister] and I closer to each other, and it’s given me counselors to look up to as mentors,” Carroll said.
Considering Carroll has been in attendance for nine years, he said that he knows the ins and outs of the camp. However, this year will be different. He will be given the title “Chief” and represent his Choctaw tribe.
Kanakuk divides their campers up into four tribes their first year of camp. The Kanakuk website states that “whether they’ve come to kamp with a best friend or on their own, not one kamper ends the day without a family.” The male tribes are led by an elected chief and the female tribes are led by an elected princess.
“It is a huge honor to be named ‘Chief,’ but it also comes with a lot of preparation and stress,” Carroll said. “I got elected by the leadership staff and past chiefs, and my cabinmates voted for me too.”
Each week, Carroll has conference calls with the other chiefs and the camp director, Keith Chancey. He said that the first ten weeks, the group studied 2 Timothy, and then the following ten weeks were focused on 1 John.
Carroll said that another part of his preparation included heading to camp for a weekend dedicated to all of the chiefs and princesses. During this time, Carroll said that the future leaders were further educated on their expected responsibilities, which include sharing their personal testimonies, hyping other campers up, and serving as a role model to younger kids.
Carroll’s mom, Danielle Carroll, goes to Kanakuk each summer, serving as a nurse. She said that she was shocked when her son was given this opportunity.
“It has been absolutely wonderful for him. It has really deepened his faith through weekly bible studies,” Danielle Carroll said. “I can really tell a difference in him. He is grounded in the Word, and we talk about it so much at home. You have to have a truth, and our truth is the Bible and the Word because as you go out in the world, you need that.”
From a parental standpoint, Danielle Carroll said that sending her kids to camp Kanakuk has been worth every penny. “I know that he is grounded in his faith, and all of that deep stuff has come from there, not as much me, it’s all from Kanakuk.”
Growing up in a Christian home, Carroll said that he has always been on fire for God. His sister, freshman Katie Carroll, said she shares the same passion for the Lord. She is also a long-time Kanakuk camper and said that she is proud of her brother’s accomplishment.
“We’re both super pumped about it [camp] because it’s our favorite place to go ever. When we want to talk about our faith at some point, we talk about Kanakuk. It’s something we can bond over,” Katie Carroll said.
Carroll said that remaining faithful in high school can have its challenges and that his family has always been able to support him through his struggles.
Going to every year, Carroll said has had a major contribution to keeping him on the right path. Carroll said he is thankful for the camp because Kanakuk “reignited a spark” in his faith each summer.