Regions Bank in Jackson, MS provided 10 bicycles this spring for FCA students and staff to enjoy around campus. Pictured from left to right are: Stewart Edwards, FCA president; Monica Owen and Jim Purdie, representatives from Regions Bank; Mitzi Watkins, FCA Wellness Committee; Todd Marion, FCA VP and CFO; and Hugh Potts, Jr., FCA Board chairman.
Karen Winter was named Outstanding Alumnus of the Year recently during Alumni Day at FCA. Karen, FCA Class of 1974, graduated from the University of Mississippi with a BS and later obtained a Master’s degree in Counseling. She also received a degree in Bible and Religion from Harding University.
Though born in Mississippi, her life has taken her to the far reaches of the world. Karen attended the Missions Training Institute and then lived and worked in Southeast Asia, New Guinea, Russia, Romania, Hungary, Africa, and Europe. Her responsibilities included setting up base camps, counseling individuals, setting up medical clinics, working with orphans and teaching college level English.
Returning from overseas, she began working with individuals with mental and physical disabilities and has been doing this work for seventeen years. She currently works with Oxford Counseling Center and is dedicating her free time updating the FCA Alumni Museum.
Pictured with Karen is Alex Lawson, president of the FCA Alumni Association.
A new program was rolled out in early August of 2017 spear-headed by Reni Bumpas, an FCA house parent who is joyfully gifted as an administrator, writer, and communicator. Trained adults are paired with students who can invest time and energy to accomplish a definitive purpose.
Many young people coming out of broken family situations need an extra measure of grace and guidance to help build a future plan for their life. If mentoring by loving, wise adults doesn’t occur, then often teenagers move through early adulthood floundering with very little direction. Staff were trained in the summer of 2017 with new tools needed to walk students down a career path. The program was launched in August with our senior class.
The new program seems to be paying off according to an early survey at the end of the semester.
- One student said she’s applying for a scholarship that requires a resume, and she had no idea how to prepare one, and had been agonizing over it. At just the right time, Dr. Jeré Littlejohn came in and taught on that, and now she feels great about it.
- One student said it’s gotten her more focused, that she’d been avoiding planning, and that the Career Report was particularly helpful in that regard.
- One student said she would have been behind on the college visits if not for them being required, and she went on to say how the deadlines were good for her and helped her.
- Several students remarked about how they appreciated being able to talk about both personal stuff and getting encouragement and guidance for their future and for life.
- Many students reported that the life coaching had been “very helpful,” that it was “good having someone to track,” that coaches were “good role models,” and that “they would have been behind had it not been for the coaches and assignments.”
Life Coaching at FCA teaches students how to design a resume’ of experiences, learn more about their unique personality traits, develop a “life purpose statement,” shadow adults at work, and much more.
As you think about the young people at French Camp Academy, please pray for the Life Coaching program. Pray that God will use these vital relationships to provide the God-given guidance and resources needed for our young people to make the right choices moving forward in life.
Courtney Collins has come full circle; from once being a member of a student work crew to now leading her own work crew as Manager of Double Blessings Thrift Store. As a former student, Courtney enjoyed being part of a Christian community so when she married her husband Craig, who serves as the pianist at French Camp Baptist Church, it was only natural to inquire about positions available to her on campus.
Even though it has been challenging for her to step into an adult role at FCA, Courtney has made several innovative improvements at Double Blessings including a new computer system, operating an eBay store for donated items, and social media advertising. Recently she coordinated with Kosciusko Walmart to receive a donation of round clothing racks and three days of volunteer labor. While the makeover isn’t complete, store items are organized and visible making shopping pleasant.
Courtney isn’t the only one adjusting to a new role. Cindy Cox was Courtney’s dorm parent while she was a student and is now her supervisor at Double Blessings. “She’s grown in her decision-making ability and she’s growing daily in her walk with the Lord”, Cindy said fondly.
Working alongside a work crew allows our staff the opportunity to spend time connecting with students on a personal level. Recently Courtney was asked by a student to attend a mother daughter event as a mentor. She has a unique connection with the students to be able to talk with them about their current struggles and they know she’s been in their shoes.
Courtney glows when talking about the work crew. “The best part of my day is when the work crew comes in each afternoon. Getting to know the kids and learning them as individuals is very rewarding. The Lord has provided me an opportunity to become a role model for students.”
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.
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. 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For 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.
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.
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.
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.
By Sylvia Dickson
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some of our young people have never experienced ideal living—living 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 us 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.
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.
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.
And 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.
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 Renewal
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 or 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.
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.
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).
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.