Although fewer kids are attending, Kids Across America in Branson is back in business this summer after remaining closed in 2020 because of the pandemic. Despite the challenges, lives are still being changed.
“We’re at about 28, 30 percent,” President and CEO Randy Odom says. “We normally have about 9,000 kids every summer. We’re operating at a reduced number. We have young people from all over the nation — Florida, West Palm Beach, from Dallas, Texas, St. Louis, Memphis, Chicago.
“The young people that we focus on are in urban areas, and they do live in cities, and we do intentionally seek out relationships with ministries and churches who are in under-resourced areas, and we want to provide resources to them and one way we do that is through our camps.”
Christian rapper Lecrae attended the camp as a teenager and now his kids are carrying on the tradition. He recently said through social media, “God is using Kids Across America…I experienced it, and now my kids are.”
The camp’s decision to reopen follows a year of unprecedented challenges and changes for today’s younger generation.
What we’re seeing inside those smaller numbers is we’ve had almost 48 percent of those kids come to Christ.
“Their schedules were hindered, they didn’t have school,” Odom said. “They weren’t able to be exposed to certain afterschool programs or sports activities or even the mentoring relationships that they would have. So we felt really strongly about even opening at a reduced capacity.”
Safety measures such as masks, temperature checks and loads of hand sanitizer are now part of the camping experience. “We have a phenomenal health-care team that works with us,” Odom said. “We test, we do offer the vaccine. We feel like we’ve layered a blanket of protection around our camp.”
Despite fewer kids, those who attend the camp are responding to the unchanging gospel of Christ.
“What we’re seeing inside those smaller numbers is we’ve had almost 48 percent of those kids come to Christ, make a profession of faith or respond to the gospel in a tangible way,” Odom said.
Alan Goforth | Metro Voice