When Elizabeth Turner started going to summer camp eight years ago, she had no idea how much of an impact it would have on her life.
Now she is taking her camp experience to the next level and will embark on a new experience with the Link Year program at Kanakuk Kamp in Branson, Missouri in the fall.
Elizabeth is the 18-year-old daughter of Jimmy and Terri Turner of Belzoni. She is also a recent graduate of Manchester Academy in Yazoo City.
While her other classmates will be going on vacations or starting summer classes for college, Elizabeth will begin her summer in a few weeks by going back to Kanakuk as a children's counselor in training, and then onto a mission trip to Cuba at the end of June.
Elizabeth also plans to take a few secondary courses during the summer so that she can enter college as a sophomore once her Link Year Program is over.
Link Year is a nine-month program offered to high school graduates that is designed to build a solid foundation within each student. It is a direct extension of Kanakuk Kamp, whose mission statement is: “Developing dynamic Christian leaders through life-changing experiences, Godly relationships, and spiritual training.”
Elizabeth made the decision to join this program over a year ago, despite her family's tradition of attending the University of Mississippi for secondary education.
"My mom and dad thought it was a great idea," said Elizabeth. "That was the best answer I could have gotten from them and from the rest of my family, because this is something that I really wanted to do. Having full support from my family really meant a lot to me."
While at Link Year, Elizabeth will spend her mornings involved in courses related to Bible study, discipleship, and accountability, while also participating in group events and other mission opportunities related to the program in the evenings. Her afternoons will be spent on courses from John Brown University who is partnering with the Link Year Program to provide an educational experience to the students.
"While I am at Link Year, I definitely expect to grow closer to Christ, and I know I will be able to prove and tell others what I believe and why I believe it," she said. " I also expect to know my strengths and weaknesses better and to have a clearer understanding of where I want to go next."
Even though she is taking a different path than her former classmates at Manchester, she still plans to stay in contact with most of them. She also plans to create new friendships while at Link Year with other students participating in the program.
"I am expecting to really get close to some of these people," she said. "There are going to be 50-75 people in the program with me and there will be a lot of fun events, so I am expecting to have a lot of fun."
Elizabeth also says that a benefit of the program will be that she will be able to live her faith more comfortably and confidently and that it will become easier to tell others in the world about God.
"I just think it will help me open up, and it will give me that boost of confidence that I need when sharing my faith," she said. "I just want to be an encouragement to others, and be the light that God wants me to be."
Elizabeth has a few ideas on different career fields that she is interested in, and has faith the Link Year will help guide her into the direction that she needs to be.
"Wherever I go, I want to make an impact on others," she said.
Elizabeth said that Kanakuk Kamp has alot of great Christ-centered opportunities for children and teens of all ages, including sports related coursed such as tennis, football, and baseball, as well as other small group activities such as small group sessions and quiet times.
For more information about Kanakuk Kamps for children, or about the Link Year program for high school graduates, visit www.kanakuk.com or www.linkyear.com.