100 Students Attend Worship Camp

The CU summer camp prepares high-schoolers to be musicians

by Kristen Farley

Cedarville’s two-week Worship Camp hosted over 100 high school students this summer, making it one of the largest academic camps the university offers.

In 2009, Dr. Roger O’Neel, assistant chair of Worship and associate professor of Worship, and Jim Cato, associate vice president of Christian Ministries, founded the camps with the desire to see high school students equipped to serve their local churches with excellence.

Cedarville hosts the student musicians for a week of intensive music and worship mentoring.

As faculty and Worship majors collaborate to teach the camps, Cedarville students have been able to benefit alongside the high schoolers.

“I’ve been able to see local area bands that have been improved, and kids starting up worship ministries back at their home churches,” Dr. O’Neel said. “We’re not just helping ourselves, but we’re helping by serving the church at large.”

 When campers arrive, they are grouped into bands directed by Heartsong members. These university students help the campers prepare for the student-led praise concert at the end of the week.

Mentoring the bands is a highlight for Heartsong vocalist Kristen Doyle.

“It’s really cool to be able to hang out with students who love the Lord and to be able to talk about Jesus with them and to talk through the lyrics of our songs with them,” Doyle said.

She remembered a time when a camper displayed his love for the Lord.

“During a conversation, one of the guys in our group, a high school student, wrote a poem about the crucifixion and how Christ bore our sins on His body on the tree,” Doyle said. “It was so beautiful and spontaneous, and so worshipful.”

The five-day camp itinerary includes general sessions led by guest speakers, voice and instrumental masterclasses with worship faculty and staff and breakout sessions that explore subjects like theology and audio technology.

Whether campers are sent as a group by local churches or come as individuals, everyone receives the chance to improve as professional musicians at Worship Camp.     

Since this academic camp is modeled after the Worship major program at the university, many campers return to Cedarville as worship students and Heartsong members. 

For faculty members like O’Neel, the real prize is not necessarily the enrollment rates, but the opportunity to see the spiritual development of students over the past decade.

“It’s been a real joy to watch it grow and to see the students’ lives who are impacted,” O’Neel said. “The biggest thing for me is, when we have essays of worship, to have incoming students come in saying ‘I went to Worship Camp and it changed my life’ or ‘I got saved at Worship Camp,’ or ‘This is where I felt called to a ministry.’” 

Summer Worship Camps are available for musically inclined students, ages 14-18, who have an interest in developing their musical talents to serve as a member of a worship team.

Additional information about future dates and registration details can be found at cedarville.edu.

Kristen Farley is a senior English major and an Arts and Entertainment writer for Cedars. She enjoys puppies, puns, people, and alliteration.

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