With her trunks still packed from last year, Bev Jones grabs some clean clothes and she's ready. For most, preparing for girls camp is a long process, but for Bev Jones, it's now second nature. This summer marks her 50th year at camp — as a leader.
"I started going the first year after high school," said Sister Jones, who serves as Young Women president in the Brownsburg Ward, Indianapolis Indiana West Stake. "I took a group of girls to my uncle's farm and we camped."
With camping experience ranging over six decades, Sister Jones has seen camp evolve into the program it is today.
In Sister Jones' first years at camp, certification had not been regulated, so the time spent with the campers sleeping in a tent and cooking over a fire was organized largely by her. Later, to be certified to teach, Sister Jones traveled to Salt Lake City for training, then returned to Indiana to teach others.
"When the 1970s certification came out, we were told this generation would have to learn how to survive in order to survive," she said.
Not only have the campers learned basic physical survival skills, the spiritual survival skills developed at camp are just as necessary, oftentimes life changing.
"Many times parents say their daughter came home a different person; they don't understand, but I do," she said.
Although Sister Jones doesn't love camping, she loves the constant interaction with the young women.
"Their enthusiasm and excitement is contagious," Sister Jones said. "The best thing about camp is getting one-on-one. Getting to know the girls, laughing with them, singing with them — I love that."
Not only does Sister Jones love the girls, the girls love her.
"It doesn't matter what stake or what group of girls she is around, the girls just adore and love her," said Anna Hopkins, a former camper with Sister Jones and member of the Brownsburg Ward.
With 50 years of girls camp experiences, and as someone who knows there are many more to come, Sister Jones continues to return to camp because of the blessing it has been in her life.
"It always works out no matter what camp I've been to, I can't remember ever attending a camp that wasn't successful," she said. "God loves me, I'm the one that has benefited the most. It's not a service, it's a pleasure."
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