Signed, Sealed, Delivered
The Hendersons Live the Dream at Frontier Camp
By April Towery
The question, “What’s your favorite thing about Frontier Camp?” garners different answers from campers and parents. The Recharge program – specifically “personal notes to MY child from Liz Henderson” – frequently tops the list.
Recharge began as the Mailbox Club under FC’s legendary Estella Brown more than 30 years ago as a mail-based outreach program for campers. After campers return home at the end of their summer camp stay, they receive a Bible lesson in the mail with some study questions. The idea is to keep the kids active in their walk of faith during those months they’re back home in the real world.
The campers mail the Q&A back to Liz and then get a new lesson in the mail – complete with a handwritten note of encouragement. Liz seems like just the gal for the job. She used to be one of those kids who faithfully did her Mailbox Club lessons. She sent them back to camp and then waited in anticipation for the next one.
“The first summer I attended camp, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior,” she said. “As the years went on, the highlight of my summer was going to Frontier Camp. I liked the activities, loved my counselors and cherished the Bible teaching. As most campers, the thought of working at camp when I grew up was a dream … Little did I know the Lord’s kindness would allow me to live out that dream.”
Liz still has some of her old lessons that Mrs. Brown sent her when she was a child. “It was wonderful knowing that she was praying for me,” Liz said. When the late Mrs. Brown retired, she passed the baton to Carla Villanueva, another former camper who grew up with Mailbox Club lessons.
“[Mrs. Brown] was faithful to encourage me to spend time in God’s Word and I knew she was praying for me,” Carla said. “Her impact on my life was huge. It was a privilege that she asked me to take over for her. I knew carrying on her legacy of personal notes to each camper was critical to the success of the ministry. It was such a blessing to connect with the campers, hear their struggles, encourage them and pray for them.” When Carla handed over the program to Liz in 2007, the personal notes remained a priority.
“I believe Mrs. Brown, then Carla, and now myself have all seen the benefits and value in sending letters along with the lessons,” Liz said. “It is a way we can reach out to the campers, get to know them, and encourage them to press on in studying God’s Word. It is a blessing to pour into the campers’ lives after they leave camp – to help them continue with Bible study, to pray for them, and be able to share with them how they can be praying for camp.”
Liz continued, “The personal notes are cherished by many – the campers receiving notes from camp and also camp receiving notes from campers. I still have notes from Mrs. Brown from when I was an elementary-aged camper being spurred on to continue reading my Bible. But from the camp side, we also cherish hearing from the campers. To receive a letter from a camper seeking prayer or sharing what they have learned is priceless and rewarding.”
Over the years, Liz heard from many who shared their Recharge lessons with their families during devotional time. One camper completed the lessons with her grandmother each week.
“A former camper and staffer once told me she participated in the Recharge program when she was a camper. Her parents would encourage her to read the lesson and do a little bit every day,” Liz recalled. “She didn’t realize it as a kid but now, as an adult, she gives credit to the lessons for learning the importance of spending time daily in God’s word and having a personal Bible study time.”
The program was re-branded to Recharge when the materials were upgraded to suit all age groups. Over the years, the lessons have changed, and the notes have come from different people, but the message has remained the same.
“Mrs. Brown saw the value in continuing to invest in the campers’ spiritual lives after they left camp. I am so thankful she did as I was one of the campers who benefited from her efforts,” Liz said. “She helped me learn the importance of spending time reading my Bible and also the value of prayer. I am forever grateful for her tireless efforts. Now as a mother, seeing my daughter dig into the same lessons that the Lord used to help mold me, makes me ecstatic. It is a blessing having a program come alongside us as we strive to point her toward Christ.”
At the end of the day, she explained, camp is “super fun.” But what is even better is the staff’s dedication to teaching scripture and developing disciples of Jesus Christ.
“Recharge is an extension of that. Yes, the lessons are fun and it is fun to receive mail. But even more importantly, they are helping the campers mature in their Christian faith,” Liz said. “We have seen campers receive Jesus as their Savior through the lessons and we have seen believers grow in their faith.”
Liz met her future husband, Matt Henderson who is now the Teen Camp Director, when both were on summer staff. The Hendersons now have five children.