About frenchcampacademy

French Camp Academy, a safe, stable, healing place dedicated to providing a Christian boarding school and home experience in central Mississippi for young people needing an alternative place to live and learn. Though their backgrounds are diverse, all of our students need an environment where they can thrive emotionally, spiritually, academically, physically and socially.

Summer Mission Trips, Why?

Summer Mission Trips, Why?

Working through the local church here in our area, French Camp Academy desires to expose young people who have made professions of faith to missions and outreach. Why in the WORLD would we do this?

I love what Edith Schaeffer said years ago, Children are meant to understand compassion and comfort because they have received compassion and comfort—and this should be in the family setting. A family should be a place where comfort is experienced and understood, so that the people are prepared to give comfort to others.

Schaeffer’s comment certainly resonates with those laboring to provide a Christian home for young people at French Camp Academy. We believe sharing your faith creates an opportunity for those who have received the comfort of Christ to express it to others, thereby creating greater dependence upon God by stimulating a desire and love for His Word, and greater need for prayer with God’s people. Missions and outreach also provide opportunities for young people to see the brokenness of mankind in other cultural settings giving them broader perspective as teenagers think about their own lives and personal situations; greater insights can lead to deeper compassion. A Christian home can encourage these values; French Camp Academy is this kind of home.

The summer of 2017 brought opportunities for French Camp students to be stretched in these ways by participating in a trip to Wales and New York City. The team to Wales:

  • Encouraged the local church in Haverfordwest
  • Led Bible studies with Welsh youth group
  • Participated in worship at the local church
  • Hosted Holiday Bible Club for neighborhood children
  • Served at a Food Bank
  • Prayed with church members

The team to New York City:

  • Learned strategies to reach multiple people groups with the Gospel
  • Shared the love of Christ with people in parks and common gathering areas
  • Shared testimonies
  • Led worship

Please pray for French Camp Academy as it works deliberately to be a place of comfort and encouragement so young ones can be equipped to give comfort to others.

Visit http://www.frenchcamp.org to learn more about French Camp mission to  young people and their families.

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An Alumna Speaks Out

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by Michaela Parker

As a student living in the area, I experienced French Camp Academy differently than people who live in the homes. FCA may have been  the place where I attended high school, but it was so much more than that.  I received a great education, but more importantly, I was cared for, loved, encouraged, and pointed to Christ.

I graduated in 2013 with a grand total of 28 classmates.  Having such a small class was so much fun because I was able to know and befriend everyone in my class.Allie Pendleton on air (3) copy I loved the small school scene and decided to further my education at Mississippi College. I graduated in 2016 with a degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations and journalism.

In high school, I was the girl everyone tried their hardest to avoid. Why? Because I was on the yearbook staff. I constantly carried my camera with me to events and school hoping to get that perfect picture. I served on staff for all four years. Most of my time after school was spent at WFCA Radio where I worked all four years of high school. That opportunity was one like none other, and sitting behind a microphone is where I discovered my love for communications.aaaMexico group

Mission trips were a big part of my high school experience. FCA is  unique in that it gives students the opportunity to participate in mission trips to Mexico, New York, Texas, and Wales. For three consecutive years, I served on mission teams to Fort Worth, Texas and aaa Mexico Mission Wales. Most young people are not given the opportunity to serve on a mission team until college. Because I had that opportunity while in high school, it helped me build my foundation on Christ and gave me a heart for the lost during my teenage years.

I will always value the staff members at FCA. During my four years in high school, I developed so many relationships that are still in my life today. They were influential figures to me as a teenager, and now as a young adult, they are great friends to me. I felt comfortable enough to discuss different challenges I was facing, and I expected to receive wisdom in return – which I always did. Even now, I know that I can go to them with anything and they will help me in the blink of an eye.jocelyn-hannah-o-with-camera

The love, encouragement, and support that was so graciously bestowed upon me while at FCA was very beneficial in my life. The Lord used so many staff members to show me what a young, Christ-like lady should look like. For my entire high school career, I was prayed for and invested in. Even though I did not live on campus, they still took the time to invest in students like myself. I can’t properly express my gratitude to them for being some of the most intentional and genuine people I’ve ever met.boy contemplating

The one thing that I love and value the most about FCA is the commitment to giving students a solid foundation built on Biblical principles. The Lord’s teachings are interwoven in the lessons taught in the classroom. Each year, I took a different academic class that was built around the Christ’s teachings and principles. Two of my favorite courses were Christian Family Living and Christian Worldview, both which I took during my senior year. The information that I learned in those classes I still apply to my life today. Defending my faith and recognizing healthy, Christ-centered relationships were two things that I had to deal with while in college, and FCA helped me with both of those.a-cassidy-reading-to-marcus

FCA is not like any other place I’ve ever experienced. I’ve seen so many people be changed for the better, I being one of them. The love that I have for FCA has only grown as the years have gone by. Even though my time as a student has come and gone, I am still a part of FCA through frequent visits, and most importantly, through prayer.

The Lord has tremendously blessed this ministry and the young people who come into FCA’s care, and I am confident that His faithfulness will be evident in the years to come.a-3-girls-in-church

They say that French Camp Academy is “One Fine Place.” Well, they say that because it’s true. A place as special as this can only come straight from the Lord, which in my books, makes FCA one fine place.

Priceless

By Sylvia Dickson

 Our seniors have graduated with pomp, circumstance, and joy. The closing of this chapter in their lives mandated the tossing of hats in the air, hundreds of hugs and congratulations.

Priceless

CharlotteFor the past several years I have helped conduct our Senior Exit Interviews. This is their opportunity to give us a report card. Each area is rated and commented on: home, school, sports, activities, and work. All, except for a couple, gave us an A.

The prevailing comment in all areas was that we care. What does that look like? We want them to succeed. We spend time with students; we listen to them; we tutor; we know their names; we follow up; and, we provide a safe, welcoming community—a family atmosphere.

Pricelessmarcus

God entrusted these young people to us for a season. Now He has opened new chapters in their lives, continuing their stories. We pray for them; we have high hopes and trust they will remember the many priceless things they have learned at FCA—mainly, that each one is priceless in God’s eyes.

One of the Proverbs says that we are to train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. We have countless alumni contact us, or come back to campus and tell us that the scriptures, the Christian role models, the healthy emotional and spiritual input have shaped their lives. Things they learned in Bible classes, Christian Worldview and Christian Family Living still speak truth in their lives today.joe-richards-boy

Priceless

 Our students are very important people. God made a place called French Camp Academy, and made a place for each young person who comes here. They are part of the hidden treasures and’ riches stored in secret places* God is calling us to value, cherish, and prepare for His kingdom.face-painting

These young people are precious. We tell them that. We give them High Fives and Atta’ Boys for jobs well done. When correction is needed we tell them, You’re too precious to act like that. When they are sad, we tell them God is always with you and will never leave you alone. When they are anxious or confused we pray with them and tell them, God knows you inside and out and will answer you, because He loves you.

 Priceless

 

*Isaiah 45:3

Ideally Speaking

By Sylvia Dicksongirl runner

Then
I have vivid memories of May Day in grammar school. Well, possibly it was one May Day. Schools probably don’t host May Day activities anymore, but for my classmates and me, it was highly anticipated. For one thing, we got out of the classroom and into the sunshine.

Another name would be Field Day, but to me, that just doesn’t sound very inviting even though we ran races, kicked balls, played Red Rover, softball, and had snacks. I remember in first grade running with determination and speed to win the 10-yard dash. How marvelous I felt when they handed me a blue ribbon. It’s funny that I couldn’t make the track team in high school.girl-in-red

On that May Day in first grade, something else happened that wasn’t exhilarating. My mom and dad picked me up from school to take me to live at a “home” for children with respiratory problems. Even though I had just won the 10-yard dash, I was not a picture of health.

So, as a 7-year-old, I left home to live in a dormitory with about 20 other girls. Boys lived in another dormitory and we were all under 12 years old. All of us went to school together in a 2-room schoolhouse. As a miniscule first grader, the playground seemed huge. If I went back today, it would probably look half the size.1aa boy with blocks

I was only there for 4 months, but being away from my family, thrown into a group where I had no privacy and no escape from them was hard. We wore uniforms of white shorts, shirts, and sandals in the summer. If the weather was chilly we added a light sweater. (I don’t know what was worn in the winter because I wasn’t there).

This was not a normal situation. Of course, the ideal is for children to be in a family with a trustworthy mother and father. The children at this home had no relationships with the adults. Everything was scheduled down to when and where we took baths, no variation in clothing, and lines for going to meals, school and play. Staff strictly supervised during their shift and left.
1aa Marla & girl

 

NOW
As I watch our students at FCA come and go, I see normalcy. Again, the ideal is an intact mother and father family. However, French Camp is a community that gives a lot of freedom to try new things within a safe framework. We have relationships.

Adults interact with students in normal ways. Students have relationships with house parents, teachers, and other staff members: healthy, wholesome, god-honoring relationships.1aa bike a thon

Some of our young people have never experienced ideal livingliving as God planned. Just being a kid—riding a bike, throwing a ball, catching crawdads in the creek. They lost their youth to the bullies of a parent’s drug or alcohol abuse. Others became victims of neighborhood decline, or death of a caregiver. Still others made bad choices—skipping school, disrespect.

The biggest issue is trust. Young people come to a-wally-readingus not knowing who to trust because they have never been able to trust. As I talk with our students, I have learned one of the most important parts of FCA are the relationships they form with adults.

Comments from students show that they can be real; talk about things that matter and be heard; know forgiveness is on the table ready to be accepted; feel safe; be given second and third chances; know that the staff truly cares about them; and, that we want what is best for them.hat-day-boy

FCA: ideal? Maybe.

At this time, in this place, God’s plan for us at French Camp Academy is good and perfect. No matter our status—staff or student—we are here because He truly cares for us. He is in every conversation, at every event, in the depths of despair, and the heights of joy.

We are His family and He always does what’s right. He is our loving Father, faithful and true. This is the message we live out at French Camp Academy.

 

 

 

A PLACE OF RENEWAL

by Sylvia Dicksongirls with plant

There is a certain beauty to the winter landscape: stark silhouettes of bare branches brushing against a gray sky, empty fields bathed in crisp, winter sunlight, nippy mornings coated with glittering frost. However, what we truly long for, after waking in the early dark of winter, is to throw open our windows and feel warm spring breezes brushing away the sleep from our eyes.

Spring is a time of renewal. Daffodils spring from brown turf, trees dress up in spring green, the urge to fly a kite or plant a garden takes hold. We long to freshen up and fix up. Out with the old and in with the new.

daffodilsAnd so it goes, year after year. Our souls, bodies, and all of creation long for renewal. So many years of frustration and futility! How long will it last?

At French Camp Academy we see firsthand the ravages of sin and the bondage to decay. Students come to us from families fractured or destroyed by sin. They come to us looking for a place of renewal.

Why Renewal?boys and wisteria

In God’s Word, we see that even though Adam’s stomach was full, his purpose in life defined, his success certain, he wanted more.

When Adam and Eve broke the only commandment their Creator had given, they received a horrible shock. No longer could life be lived free from fear, pain, and destruction. A new law went into effect with the immediate verdict, “Guilty. Condemned to Die.”

The Beginning of Renewala-another-boy-in-church

Redemption and renewal are themes that guide French Camp Academy. We live out lives renewed in Christ before our young people, showing them “… there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

We tell them that even though mother ora-boy-painting father may have deserted them, God will not. We tell them that Jesus Christ came to free them from sin and give them new life: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3: 19).

The Work of Renewal

House parents and Historic area personnel work with students to reveal God’s plan for renewal. Teachers, coaches, work directors, radio personnel, all work at chipping away the chains of sin.a-girl-with-horse-web

In the afternoons and on Saturdays, you can see students and staff working on different projects. Horses must be fed, the bed and breakfast freshened for visitors, and the conference center readied for the next group. WFCA trains students in broadcasting. At Rainwater Observatory, students learn how to work telescopes and help with astronomy programs.tennis-player

Every aspect of FCA contributes to the accomplishment of our mission of being a Christ-centered home and school, serving young people and families for the glory of God.

Effects of Renewal

Lives built on the certainty of God’s redemptive work become stable, fruitful, and fulfilled. Hope takes root and enlivens minds and hearts. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (I Cor. 5: 17).katy-octavious-farida

The cords of sin and evil that so easily entangled thoughts and emotions are slowly unraveled and tossed into the flames. The stagnant water of sorrow is drained and lives are refilled with fresh water. Grins replace groans, direction replaces destruction, clear minds replace cloudy thinking.

Sometimes the renewal takes place quickly, sometimes slowly. But all around us we see God renewing lives at French Camp Academy.

‘Tis the Season

aa-at-bat-smallBy Sylvia Dickson

The crowd watched as the batter stepped up to the plate. On the first pitch, he took a hefty swing at the ball—and missed. Strike one. The second and third pitches were called balls. Then a strike and another ball. The next pitch would be the final one for this batter.

The anticipation rose. Would he strike out, baseball-triowalk, or send the ball soaring into left field for a base run?

Just as in a game of baseball, our work with young people at FCA is full of anticipation, cheering, and let downs. What is most important though, is the strength and encouragement we get from God’s Word, knowing that He is calling all the plays, and we’re all in it together.

Down for the countDSC_6489

How are we doing? What is our record at FCA? To answer these questions, we asked some of our students, past and present:

    The Lord used so many staff members to show me what a young, Christ-like lady should look  like. For my entire high school career, I was prayed for and invested in.

    I know I am loved here. I don’t have to worry about providing my own food or wonder who will take me to the doctor.boy-with-bat

    I can be a child again.

    Staff members patiently worked with me on my anger and helped me learn better ways of relating.

    When I mess up, I have to have consequences. But they are not angry, abusive consequences. Actually, they are helpful, and I am forgiven.

In baseball, boxing, and basketball—you win some and you lose some. Not so at FCA. All of our students are winners. In their struggles to overcome the hard things and their efforts to change harmful attitudes and behaviors, we see God’s grace at work in each life.juliette-s-blonde

And the Winner Is

When a young person leaves FCA, he takes a solid, healthy knowledge that Christ offers hope, peace and strength that cannot be found in the world. From our perspective, that is winning. Transforming lives through the redemptive work of Christ is our focus. God’s plan is for us to Keep our eyes on the ball and trust Him.

Do we always hit a home run? No. Most of our hits are base runs or walks, with some strike-outs thrown in. However, we know we are on the right team—that God has picked each student and staff member by His grace to be here so that He can accomplish His plans for our lives

From the Heart of a Child

by Karen Cates, FCA staff memberracing-car-boy

I am always looking for opportunities to share nuggets of truth with the students and invest God’s Word into their lives so it will accomplish that which God has purposed and desired (Isaiah 55:11). The unexpected and awesome twist is how much these children speak truth back into my life.

The Pain
Somehow I pulled my lower back and was suffering from sciatic nerve pain. Then my grandchildren were with me for a few days. Without thinking, I lifted the walker with the baby in it, hurting my back even more. I am certainly not young anymore. As my husband jokingly reminds me, the ole gray mare ain’t what she used to be.horse

The next morning I stretched my muscles and took some medication before taking one of the boys to an appointment. It was difficult to get in the tall vehicle. I let out a sigh of frustration. The young man asked what was wrong and I simply told him my back was still hurting and it was hard to get comfortable.brown-eyed-boy

The Prayer
He immediately began to pray aloud.  Dear Jesus, please touch Mrs. Cates’ back and heal it. Make the pain go away so she will feel better. In Jesus Name, Amen.

As I listened my own prayer went up: Father, you have told us we must come to you with the innocence and faith of a child. Your heart is for these little ones and I ask, for the sake of your Name, please show this child You hear his prayers. My pain is insignificant, but the building of his faith is for eternity.karen-cates

The Praise
We got to Starkville and I got out of the vehicle and walked to the door and I realized there was no pain. I moved, stretched, reached up, squatted and exclaimed—God heard you!

He looked at me questioning, What!

He healed my back! It doesn’t hurt anymore. I can move!

How?! He exclaimed.

I don’t know. He’s God! He can do anything! I answered.emmaline

The Purpose
As I contemplated all this on our way home, I thought how easy it is to just take a pill, complain, live through it, call a friend, and then, maybe, ask God to do something.

Through faith, this child’s first response was to pray. It was automatic and as natural as breathing. How my heart was convicted. Why isn’t that my first response?

DSC_0872Had I not just written a devotion on the presence of God in our lives from Daniel 10? When we get up every morning, are we like Daniel in that we fall on our face with no strength or desire of our own, overwhelmed by the presence within us, worshipping with no thought of our own until He picks us up and orders our day for us?

Oh, what conviction! When I fail to acknowledge that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is ever present, do I mourn? Do I just rush through the day pushing Him aside for the worldly demands and fleshly desires of my own will? Am I like the nation of Israel with a divided heart?”1boy & girl with ball

The Promise
God used the heart and faith of a child to remind me of my neglect. He is all I need. If we do not live this in front of those He has entrusted to our care for this short time, how will we be able to share hope for hurting hearts?

French Camp is definitely a place of hope and healing, not only for our children. God continues to daily teach and strengthen those He has called that we may demonstrate: I have a hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, therefore I have hope in Him. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him (Lamentations 3:21-25).

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