Leanndra Padgett was the very first youth representative on the National Camp and Retreat Committee (NCRC), beginning in 2007. She will complete her term with the UMCRM Governance Board in 2015. Leanndra is now a senior at Georgetown College in Kentucky, and will graduate in May with an English degree, certification to teach English to grades 6-12, and a Biology minor.
How were you called into C&R ministry?
I was literally born into camping ministry, as my dad was a full time director at Aldersgate Camp and Retreat Center in Kentucky for the first 21 years of my life. I volunteered from a young age and always knew that I wanted to work on summer staff when I was old enough.
The things that made me want to be a part of camping were the presence of God, people, natural setting and fun! I have felt the presence of God, heard testimony of lives changed and learned lessons from the Lord often while at a campfire or elsewhere during worship and prayer at summer camp. I was also inspired by the wonderful influences of the summer staff who provided godly role models from a young age. They showed me strong, healthy relationships that attracted me and made me want to take part.
Describe your greatest blessings in this work.
I love environmental education. It is very rewarding to introduce campers to something new about nature and help them appreciate it. The same is true of horseback riding. There is nothing like seeing a “tough” kid humbled by the power of a horse and then gain confidence as they learn to listen and work together. I am always amazed by the gentleness the animals bring out in the most difficult of campers.
What’s been one of your greatest challenges?
It can be hard to live at a camp and have to share it with others! Sometimes, you just don’t feel hospitable. It is easy to forget that Camp belongs to everyone and is home to others even if they visit less often.
Where have you served?
1992-spring 2013, Aldersgate Camp and Retreat Center, Ravenna, KY, Camp Kid + Volunteer
2007-present, NCRC/UMCRM Committee
Summer 2010, Aldersgate, Creation Sensation Director (environmental education)
Spring 2011, Tim Horton’s Children’s Foundation, Campbellsville, KY, March Camp Counselor (1 week camp)
Summer 2011, Aldersgate, Animal Activities Director + Dean
Summer 2012, Aldersgate, Counselor
Summer 2013, Aldersgate, Dean
She’s ecumenical, too: “Once, in middle school, in an effort to broaden my horizons, I went to the Presbyterian camp in the same county as Aldersgate. Despite the differences, I had a great time!”