Mid-South Youth Camp Names New Leadership Team

MSYC // February 9, 2016

A new leadership team for Mid-South Youth Camp, operated by Freed-Hardeman University, will take the reins for Summer 2016. FHU President Joe Wiley made the announcement Monday night, Feb. 8, prior to the evening session of the university's annual Bible lectureship.

Brad Montague, a 2003 graduate of FHU and the creator of GO! Camp, has been named director. Gayle McDonald, currently the assistant director of MSYC, will continue in her role. They will be assisted by Tim Anderson, activities coordinator; Matt Cook, spiritual education coordinator; Travis Coleman, caretaker; and Ally Rogers, junior camp director and registration coordinator. The team brings a wealth of experience in working with camps and young people, including many years in various roles at MSYC.

Former director Frank Bradford was recognized for his work directing MSYC for the past 10 years, also. In addition to working with young people each summer, he began a fund-raising campaign to build a new dining hall to serve an even broader community throughout the year.

Calling MSYC "77 acres of magic," Montague said, "Camp is a big reason I am who I am today." A former camper, junior counselor and counselor, he met his wife, Kristi, at camp; years later, they were even married there. "I'm excited. It's an honor to work with all of you," he told the other team members. "This is a wonderful spot to do some of the best work we've ever done. We want to make camp the best possible experience for kids." He added, "Even though Kristi and I will be working with young people at MSYC instead of GO! Camp this year, we look forward to continuing to connect with energetic, visionary young people who are passionate about changing the world by serving God and others."

Montague is the creator of Kid President and the KP web series on SoulPancake's YouTube channel. He has a passion for helping foster creativity and compassion in young people. As a writer, director and advocate for children, he has reached millions around the world. He is also the New York Times best-selling author of "Kid President's Guide to Being Awesome." 

In addition to these activities, Montague served seven years as the youth minister for the Estes Church of Christ and five years as director of promotions at FHU. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in media arts from Freed-Hardeman. He and Kristi own and operate Montague Workshop, a creative studio.

McDonald has worked at MSYC since 2005. She has taught in the FHU Department of Health and Human Performance since 1999. She is also a certified athletic trainer and works with FHU's intercollegiate athletic teams. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Freed-Hardeman, and a Master of Education and a Master of Science from the University of Memphis. Prior to returning to FHU, McDonald worked as an athletic trainer and instructor at Murray State University and the University of Memphis.

Cook is a member of the FHU Bible faculty, teaching Bible and missions courses. While working with MSYC, he also will continue as a co-director of Horizons (a church leadership camp held each summer on the FHU campus). He preaches at the Stantonville Church of Christ and spent several years in Cusco, Peru, as a missionary before joining the Bible faculty. A proud native of West Virginia, he is a fan of the West Virginia University Mountaineers, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Anderson attended MSYC for 10 summers and then worked as a counselor. He is also the father of a current camper and a member of the camp board. "When I brought my son out here for camp," he said, "I told him driving under that arch was like walking through the wardrobe and entering Narnia." Anderson graduated from FHU in 1988 with a degree in agribusiness. He is a self-employed farmer who has lived in Chester County since 2002. Prior to farming, he served as a trooper with the Tennessee Department of Safety. He is a youth deacon and an active member of the Henderson Church of Christ.

Rogers, a teacher in the Chester County schools, will continue directing the junior camp and working with registration. She graduated from FHU in 1996 with a degree in education and in 2009 with a master's degree in school counseling. She has worked for the Chester County School System since 2007, teaching fifth and seventh grades before currently serving as Chester County Junior High School counselor. While this summer will mark her 11th year as housing director and director of the junior camp program, MSYC has been part of her life for more than 35 years. Her love for it began when she became a camper at age 6 before she later became a canteen worker, kitchen worker, junior counselor, lifeguard, Bible class teacher and arts and crafts director.

The final member of the team, Coleman, came to FHU from his home in Roseville, California. He is a student seeking a double major in criminal justice and psychology. His wife, Ashlyn, is also an FHU student, majoring in exercise science. The couple lives on the campgrounds. He was instrumental in the construction of the camp's boat dock last summer and will be involved in the camp's upgrades to the pool before sessions begin this summer.

"This is a labor of love," FHU President Joe Wiley said. "I know you all have plenty to do without this. I want you to know I appreciate what you are doing."

Freed-Hardeman University has operated Mid-South Youth Camp since the summer of 1957. The camp is open for eight weeks each summer and is available for retreats year-round. Camp sessions begin June 5, 2016, and continue for eight weeks. Junior camp, a day camp for younger campers, will be June 13-16, 20-23, 27-30 and July 4-7. Additional information about the camp is available at fhu.edu/msyc.