Camp Directors: Then and Now - Part 3 | Kanakuk Kamps
Camp Directors: Then and Now - Part 3


For the past two weeks, we’ve been sharing personal testimonies, advice to Kampers and insight into what the 2016 Kamp theme, “Run Free” means from our incredible Kamp directors. We hope you’ve enjoyed hearing their stories, as well as how Kanakuk is part of their lives. Join us for the final installment of the series as we are encouraged and strengthened by K-Kountry Assistant Men’s Director, Joel Trainer and Survival Kamp Director, Paul Etheridge.


Joel Trainer | K-Kountry Assistant Men’s Director


Like so many of the directors we’ve heard from, Joel gave his life to Christ at a very early age, but did not fully understand the depth of what God had done for him until he worked at Kanakuk as a K-2 counselor following his sophomore year of college. He was surrounded by passionate, loving and Godly leaders, who encouraged him and set an example for righteous living. That summer, he experienced true heart transformation! He redirected his life, and began to pursue a life that reflected the Godly leaders he witnessed.


Joel’s greatest advice for Kampers is to use the tools and weapons God has gifted us with to fight our enemy. He reminds us of the power of the Bible and the Holy Spirit inside us through two key verses:


“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrew 4:12


“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16


He encourages us to devote time to reading our Bibles and asking the Holy Spirit to help us every day, promising that it will change our lives. When we pursue the knowledge and wisdom of the Lord, we can fight confidently, knowing the God of the universe is on our team.


Joel says that too many Christians go through life as if their motto is “Walk Free” or “Run Shackled,” rather than “Run Free.” He notes that too many Christians live this way  by either lacking the passion to pursue God with the same passion a runner runs a race or by running after God but holding onto guilt for the sins they’ve committed. To Joel, to “Run Free” means to believe it wholeheartedly when the Gospel tells us we are free from every sin and the guilt that results from sin. With this knowledge, we are inspired to sprint with everything inside of us after a deep relationship with Christ!


Paul Etheridge | Survival Kamp Director

Paul was raised in a Christian home, never doubting his faith. But when he entered the military, his beliefs were shaken because he realized he had never truly claimed his relationship with Christ as his own. He had simply accepted what he’d been told to believe.


With direction from his father, he studied, asked questions and began to fully understand why he held the beliefs he did. After the military, he went to Evangel University, where this understanding developed even more as he continued to ask difficult questions and have deep conversations.


Paul had plans to attend the seminary, however those plans changed during a car ride with a North Carolina State Trooper his junior year. God changed his heart and opened the door for him to be one of the 20 applicants out of 4,800 selected to become Missouri State Troopers.


After 27 years as a State Trooper, Paul joined Kanakuk as a director, perfectly suited for our Adventure Kamp Series! His journey to being able to fully defend his faith led him to making sure the focus of Kamp devotionals is to challenge and educate Kampers in their faith.


Paul’s advice to Kampers is to seek the truth of Christ for themselves, rather than from their friends. He encourages Kampers to question everything so that they can defend their faith well and be secure in their relationship with the Lord. He has seen firsthand how important it is to truly have his belief as his own.


He also notes his favorite saying, which is, “You will not change your friends, your friends will change you.” This is a reminder that we are influenced by those closest to us, so we should surround ourselves with people who care about us and want us to grow in knowledge and love for the Lord.


To Paul, “Run Free” means to follow after God’s commandments with all our hearts. He explains that we can only experience true freedom when we live the life God intended for us. His plans for us work. It’s that simple! To experience a joyful, freedom-filled life, we just have to follow after God’s commands.


What lessons have you learned from our Kamp directors series? Share with us!