Summer Staff Stories - TEAMeffort Youth Mission Trips

Noah Durbin
Houston TX 2018
I was on staff this summer at the Houston camp. It was an amazing experience. I learned so much from my director, staff, youth leaders, and the people in the community. One of the lessons I learned is that no matter what you go through, you can always serve people. I learned this by seeing the people we worked for as examples. They lost everything twice in their lives. They first lost everything when many were forced to leave Cambodia during the coup that took over their government. It was no longer safe so they moved to Rosharon, TX and started their lives as farmers. Then they lost everything during Hurricane Harvey. The hurricane not only destroyed their houses but their only source of income since their land and houses were destroyed. But, all of that still did not stop them from serving us. Every Thursday, the community would prepare our TE camp lunches. They wanted to thank us for the work we did each week. They were always happy to see us come to the village, and not because their houses were being rebuilt, but because they loved seeing and talking to people who were willing to help someone in need. I thank God for the opportunity to work in Rosharon, TX and for my staff. It was the best! 

Kate Bellamy
Virginia Beach 2018
A TEAMeffort summer is like no other. Going into this community of people who are from everywhere is a little scary. You know almost no one but when you get there you feel so loved. When you go into a TEAMeffort summer you are surrounded by people who are showing Gods love to everyone and who are working for him. I learned so much about myself and I grew so much. Having people pour into you and being able to pour into others is amazing! Meeting new staff, youth, and homeowners and learning about them and leading them through things spiritually and physically is awesome. The summer does get tough sometimes but having people around you that support you and believe in you show you and remind you why you are there. It is so rewarding to take a step back and look at all you have done as a staff and all the growth you have made and others.

Meggie Baker
Puerto Rico 2018
This summer spent in Puerto Rico was an amazing one! I met so many beautiful people and learned something from each of them. The messages taught me something each night, even on week 8. I learned what it looks like to truly step out of my comfort zone and rely completely on God and now that I'm home I'm learning what it looks like for me to cast my nets here. It's been a joy!

Jimmy Osborne
Clarkesville GA 2017
My story began as me wanting an adventure. I considered team effort for this because I helped with the golden isles VBS the previous summer, and TE has so many possible locations to be sent. The more I prayed about it the more I felt an overwhelming peace about applying. Before I knew it, it was time to go to training and I began to get anxious. Starting then I knew I would have to lean on God so much to do this because I was out of my comfort zone. That became even more clear once I got to training. I learned quickly that when I leaned on God I felt that same overwhelming peace that made me apply, reaffirmed that he wanted me to do this and gave me strength to continue. Little did I know that cycle would continue all summer; anxious or out of my comfort zone, turn to God, peace, repeat. I was continually broken down and God would build me back up stronger when I looked to him for strength. 
I was placed in the Clarkesville camp, which to be honest wasn't somewhere I was thrilled about going. I prayed about it and still felt a peace about going. I told myself I'm going to figure out why God sent me to Clarkesville this summer. The community we worked in was such a close-knit community and I quickly felt like family there. The kids there would ride up on their bikes when they saw me pulling into the trailer park or holler at me as they drove by. They were very welcoming and so thankful for the work we were doing. One week I had a site and I tried to reach out to the man that lived there to see if we could pray for him. he came out somewhat reluctantly. We prayed for him with our campers . Afterward he looked at me and said I see the spirit of Jesus in you. What better compliment can you get? That is why we are there doing work for them, to show them Jesus! I spoke in chapel once a week and gave some of my testimony in my message and a few times some of the older campers came up after and said how they were going through the same thing! So the answer is YES I found out why God sent me there. There might be people somewhere that God knows you can touch for Him that someone else couldn't. 
Looking at post TEAMeffort, one thing I wanted to get out of this summer was change in my life back home. Every week I told the campers God is the same God back home as he is here. While I'm not perfect, I found that I now have a better habit of turning to God about things going on in my life from having to constantly this summer. If you're thinking about applying pray about it, God might want to send you on an adventure and grow you at the same time!

Anna Stroh
Gatlinburg 2017 & Puerto Rico 2016
I have served two summers with TEAMeffort and they have been some of the most difficult, challenging, rewarding, amazing, and fulfilling summers that I think I have ever experienced. Both of these summers have caused me to grow an incredible amount. I served my first summer at the beautiful camp in Puerto Rico and was pushed outside my comfort zone so many times throughout that first summer. There were so many times when I felt completely unqualified for this job that I had signed up for and felt like God had called me to. Yet, it was in those moments, when I felt completely inadequate, that God was waiting right there to show me how powerful and how adequate he was, if only I would trust him enough to let go and allow him to show me. After my first summer, I didn't originally plan on doing another summer right away, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much I missed being on the mission site all day, goofing off with my staff members, watching God work in crazy huge ways, and showing my campers what it means to not only be loved by the God of the universe, but be willing to extend that love towards others.Yet, I was scared out of my mind, could I do this all over again? I mean last summer was amazing, but I still didn't feel completely adequate to do it again. But God had other plans and so the next summer I ended up in Gatlinburg, TN. I thought maybe I would have a better idea of what to expect for my second summer, but God showed me just how amazingly unpredictable he can be by putting me, an inexperienced roofer, on a roofing site for six weeks. What?! And every time I felt completely unequipped, he provided. Being a staff member on TE is so amazing! From the friendships formed on staff, to the relationships built with campers and homeowners, to the late night laughs and the difficult mission site projects, the experience you get is honestly priceless and I wouldn't trade the experiences I've had for the world. During each of my summers it was so incredible to watch and learn how God uses broken, inadequate people to love on, lead, and serve other broken, inadequate people. And all those hard days and short nights are completely worth it every Thursday night, when you get to watch the beauty of even just one camper realizing the incredible love their heavenly father has for them despite their brokenness.

Ashley Layman
Copperhill Staff 2017
I think I'll start out by saying I was extremely worried and scared coming into my first-ever TE summer. I felt unprepared, not wise enough, not experienced enough, just simply not enough of anything but nervous. But God used me anyway! I had asked for a summer of growth and that is exactly what he gave me - ten times over!  In order to grow, you must be put outside of your comfort zone, and that's why I was scared. I had never shared a message, built a deck, played in a band & it had been 6 years since I last played an instrument, but God helped guide me through. I was called to do things that I would have never otherwise done with people I had never met. It was by far the hardest summer I had ever had, but it was also one of the best summers and some of the best opportunities for me. I was able to grow as a person and in my faith while helping campers do the same thing... isn't that beautiful?!  God calls the scared, broken and inexperienced to lead other broken, scared, and inexperienced. This summer was a lot more than just doing construction work with youth groups, it was a summer of joy, aches, growth, amazing friendships, and serving an incredible God and His people.

Levi Ayres
Jacksonville Staff 2017
This was my first summer working at TEAMeffort and it was a summer to remember.  Going into the summer, I knew that God was going to use me in ways that would bring me out of my comfort zone, and for that I am so thankful.  Being able to serve with the youth this summer and to show the love of Christ was truly an amazing experience. The youth groups were making an impact on the community and it was amazing.  We were able to share Jesus with a lady names Ms. Gale.  She was a lovely lady who did not really know Jesus but the kids and chaperones would talk to her about the Jesus' love and by the end of the summer Ms. Gale was attending church and that beats any deck or fence!  As a TEAMeffort staff member, you will be stretched to the point where you do not know if what you are doing is making a difference, but then you see God work in ways you could never dream of and God reminds you of why He brought you here. TEAMeffort has a special place in my heart, the students that came to the Jacksonville camp and the people that we served this summer.

Jacob Holloway

Copperhill Staff 2017
I went into my TEAMeffort summer with absolutely no expectations and came out with one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had. It totally removed me from my comfort zone, as I got to spend week after week with kids from all over the country and helping them work together to serve a community in need.  By August, I had eight new best friends that I can count on for anything. It's amazing to be a part of such a close-knit community of believers and to share every moment in fellowship with each other.  I was blessed to work with some of the most amazing kids I've ever met week in and week out, getting to know then was one of the greatest opportunities I've ever had. Copperhill was such an amazing place to be because the camp and the areas around it were just incredibly beautiful.  A TEAMeffort summer is exhausting, sometimes stressful, but altogether one of the best ways you could ever choose to spend a summer.

Puerto Rico Staff 2017
This was my first summer with TEAMeffort Missions, and it was honestly the craziest experience of my life. I was never a camper, so I had no idea what to expect out of this situation. And I am glad for that. I had no expectations at all and God drastically changed the course of my life this summer. I was stretched in ways I had never been stretched before, using strengths I didn't know I possessed. I was able to serve the people of Puerto Rico and the students that came down in a way that I had never done before. God truly taught me the meaning of "servant-leadership" this summer, and I am forever grateful for that. If you're thinking you want to apply but don't know if you are equipped enough to handle it, let me tell you this right now; you aren't, but that's ok. God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called!  I had never touched a saw in my life, yet I had to teach students how to use one. I had never preached a full message before, yet I did so every week. And now, because of my openness to whatever He wanted me to learn this summer, I believe He has called me to pursue full-time ministry because of the lessons I learned. The lessons of leaning on God in every situation, trusting Him to work out even the smallest of details, and allowing Him to speak truth into your life even if it isn't something you believe about yourself. If you're reading this now thinking that you might apply and are looking for a sign from God to do so, here it is. You're not prepared enough to do this job, but that's ok. He is! And He will provide you with the strength and peace to do amazing things for His glory this summer.

Shawn Paulson

Gatlinburg Camp Director 2017; Gatlinburg Staff 2015
I was in Gatlinburg Tennessee for this 2017 summer working as a director for TeamEffort. It was an incredible experience as I saw people be the hand and feet of God working on homes. TeamEffort mission trips (or working for the summer) aren't always easy, but seeing homeowners moved to tears with joy when they see hope in their lives makes it all worth it. After working two summers and going on 3 other short term mission trips with them, I am convinced that TeamEffort is the best short term missions trip organization in the country.

Victoria Spradlin
New Orleans, LA Staff 2016 & Gatlinburg, TN Staff 2015
When I look back on the last couple of years, I can see that being a staff member with TEAMeffort Missions has definitely changed my life! Getting to know homeowners, my fellow staff members, and kids from around the country has had such an impact on me, and I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today without these experiences I've had these last few summers!  I became more sure of myself and more willing to step out of my comfort zone, as well as learning how to fully rely on God during tough and stressful situations. It was amazing to see God work in the youth groups that came during the summers, and how their faith helped the homeowners come to know Jesus.  I wouldn't have believed it if somebody came up to me three years ago and told me I would be comfortable leading teenagers on a worksite or that I would lead worship in front of young people from around the country.  My experiences with TEAMeffort are something I will always look back on with great joy, not only for the challenges, but also for the relationships I've made with youth groups, homeowners and my fellow staff members that will last a lifetime! 

Tana Neels
Jacksonville, FL Camp Director 2016; Tahlequah OK Staff 2015;  Blue Knob PA Staff 2014
I've spent 3 summers with TEAMeffort Missions, and each summer has been the source of exponential spiritual growth.  When I first began as a staffer three years ago, I worked with a staff that truly showed me what Christian community was all about - years later, they are still some of the most constant prayer partners and friends throughout my college career.  As a staffer, I had the opportunity to meet groups from across the country, work with homeowners who captured my heart, and make life-long connections.  I learned everything from construction to public speaking through my time with TE.  I'm so grateful for the experience I had in each place I have served.  As a staffer, you have the opportunity to connect directly with groups and serve them on-site and through chapel each night.  As a director, you work with each of the staff members and do more behind-the-scenes coordination and camp organization.  Both roles are incredibly rewarding and worthwhile.  Take a chance - make your summer meaningful!

Malachi Chandler

Blue Knob, PA Camp Director 2016
My Co-director and I met Leroy, a potential home owner the first week we were there. My heart immediately broke for him. He was a 70 year old Vietnam vet who did not appear to have anyone. However, I was really really intimidated by the amount of work that needed to be done at his house. However, we both felt led to go and obeyed the call. In the end, we built a fence for him, put down flooring in 3 rooms, and put drywall on a ceiling, among various other projects. We spent most of the summer there. God always, always provided the right groups with the right skills to get the job done. Leroy ended up bonding really well with everyone who went to his house. His spirits were lifted in obvious ways, and it all was just confirmation to the fact that God had called us to that home.

Makayla Marshall

Golden Isles Staff 2016
Working on staff in Golden Isles, GA was such a moving experience. Only a few of the camps have a Vacation Bible School program and being able to lead one was so awesome. Every day for eight weeks I was with children who wanted to know the love of Jesus. Each day they would come running and smiling awaiting what God had in store. These children taught me more than I taught them and being able to share my story and the love of Christ with them all summer was truly amazing.

Oscar Soto
TEAMeffort Camper 2006-2011; Sautee Staff 2012; Copperhill Staff 2013; Sautee Camp Director 2014
One of the beautiful things about working at TEAMeffort Missions is actually being on a worksite and getting the opportunity to work alongside different youth groups, all with the goal of serving our God by trying to improve the lives of the people we are serving. As staff we get really close to the home owners, especially if blessed with being on the same worksite for the entire summer. The home owners I had this past summer became my family and although I was there to serve them, my life was impacted and touched because of their love, kindness and gratitude. All the youth groups I was privileged to work with fell in love with the home owners as well, and some of the students and leaders keep in contact with them to this day. TEAMeffort allowed me to encounter and experience God in a way that brought forth a stronger passion to serve others and truly be the salt and light of this world. God moved in amazing ways, lives were transformed, and the joy of The Lord was evident. The relationships and friendships formed because of TEAMeffort will forever remain dear to me and will always remind me of why it is that I serve.

Matthew Beyland
Tampa Camp Director 2010; Sautee Camp Director 2011; New Orleans Camp Director 2012; New Orleans/Tampa Camp Director 2013; Gatlinburg Camp Director 2014; 2015 New Orleans Camp Director; & 2016 Copperhill Camp Director

I can honestly say TEAMeffort has changed my life. As a camper I gave my life to Christ and now being on staff has led me to some of the greatest moments in my life. The summer is hard, there's is no doubt about it; however as hard as it is, it's worth it. To see the change that can occur within a community, a staff, or a youth group is so rewarding. As a staff member you will learn more about yourself and will also grow in your faith. For the past three summers I've met some truly incredible people that are like family to me and I owe it all to God and TEAMeffort. 

Cassie Hall
Topsail, NC 2014 Summer Staff
A TEAMeffort summer consists of witnessing the work of God in your own life and the lives of others.  Being a TEAMeffort staff member, I was consistently challenged and encouraged through interactions with fellow staff members/directors, campers, and homeowners.  Throughout the summer, you are surrounded by others who pour into you spiritually, and you have the opportunity to share the gospel with youth and homeowners.  I have realized the importance of praying consistently.  TEAMeffort's motto 'Pray As You Go' is vital to survive a summer and life (1 Thess. 5:17). Practicing consistent prayer allows us to communicate with God and recognize opportunities to serve others.  Thank you TEAMeffort for allowing me to meet amazing people who portray the love of Jesus and for pushing me out of my comfort zone! 

Jonathan Crites
Puerto Rico Staff 2014, 2015
Puerto Rico 2015 As a TEAMeffort staff member, I grew in my walk with Christ more than I would have ever imagined in one summer. Being challenged physically and spiritually, I learned how to rely on God in difficult situations, and above all, how He is faithful and truly worthy of ALL of our praise. Working in Belgica, a neighborhood in Ponce, I worked with anywhere from ten to twenty campers a week, and one of the most rewarding parts of the summer was seeing how both the youth and homeowners became more and more receptive to each other over the course of each week. Despite the language barrier in some circumstances, the Holy Spirit was (and is) at work in the lives of these people. One homeowner was not very welcoming the first couple weeks (and in previous summers), but over the course of the week my group of youth decided to gift her with a hand-knitted quilt they had spent last year making. Without using many words (as the homeowner only spoke Spanish), they exchanged the gift with her, and received an emotional response full of JOY and LOVE. We are called to love everyone, and in doing so we are the hands and feet of Christ. Witnessing change each week is such a powerful thing, and makes all the hard work meaningful, as it is for the Lord's glory.

Send Us Your Summer Staff Story

We can't wait to hear about your TEAMeffort Missions experience!
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