SBTC camps see students changed for eternity

As young hearts collided with the truth and love of the Heavenly Father through student camps this summer, student leaders also felt God’s hands better train them for spiritual leadership within their churches. This summer, God moved in and through the Southern Baptists of Texas M3 and Youth Week student camps in more ways than just the record-breaking attendance.

“This is the biggest and best year we have had since the camp started in 2010,” Garrett Wagoner,  SBTC student ministry associate and M3 camp director, said. “Each year we are growing as a camp and in numbers. We are gaining more confidence in our leadership, and we have found what God is calling us to do.”

There were three M3 camps, each in a different location and almost hitting capacity in all three; Highland Lakes registered 706, Camp Zephyr in Live Oak County registered 507, and Glorieta held in Glorieta, N.M., reined in 1,558 students, student pastors and adult volunteers.

According to Wagoner, M3 stands for moment, mission and movement. 

“We want to see students, youth pastors and adult leaders have a moment where they encounter Jesus at camp, then equip them to live a life on mission and be a part of the movement of Jesus as they go home to advance the gospel and make disciples,” Wagoner said. “We pray that camp is a gathering of churches all over Texas coming together to experience that.”

Located at Texas Baptist Encampment, Palacios, Youth Week brought in 300 registrants. The camp, which is organized by the SBTC Hispanic ministries but draws a multiethnic crowd of teenagers, recorded 20 students who dedicated their lives to Christ and three students who surrendered to a call to ministry. 

“We emphasized prayer and calling out to God, for everyone to be broken over our sin and desire to be used as instruments of revival,” Jesse Contreras, Hispanic ministries associate and Youth Week camp director, said. “Through that, we had a large number of first-time attendees from one particular church commit their lives to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.”

During Youth Week, contemporary Christian artist Jamie Grace put on a concert for the camp.

“This year we were blessed to have Jamie Grace have a concert and challenge our youth to glorify and live in holiness in our relationships and to continue to dream for him,” Contreras said.

Both sets of camps had one theme in mind, momentum with Acts 26:12-18 as the camp verse. 

Brandon Bales, student pastor for Northeast Houston Baptist Church, attended M3 camp in Glorieta with his students and adult sponsors.

“The two most important things that we received from camp, that really sets it apart from any other, is the sense of community you feel within your own church group,” Bales said. “Second, the intentionality of networking student pastors together throughout the week is a true blessing.” 

With a balanced combination of evangelism and discipleship, M3 Camps teach students and adults to check their own lives with Christ and leave knowing how to bring others in their community to Christ, Wagoner said.

“For our church, we spent most of the summer on mission and this camp provided a reflective conclusion to our students by coming together as a large community,” said Kayla Williams, student ministry associate for Northeast Houston Baptist Church. “The most important part of the camp was being able to meet with our students during church group and debrief with them at the end of the day to see how God is moving in and through them.”

Youth Week and M3 Camps invite youth leaders to grow in their spiritual walk along with the students they bring to camp.

“This year we added a workshop specifically for youth leaders and emphasized outreach to the Muslim world during our ‘What’s Next’ special program,” Contreras said.

Many students and sponsors were set free from their bondage to sin and others learned how to pray for the first time, Wagoner said.

“There was a spiritual awakening happening,” he said. “We saw students get set free from addictions, abuse and things that held them captive. We saw youth pastors encouraged to keep going in their ministry, and we heard about marriages from leaders come to reconciliation. We watched many walk away tired physically but spiritually refreshed in their walk and on fire for God.”

For more information about next year’s camps, stay tuned to and

Texan Correspondents
Morgan Collier
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