Three-year-old Greater Louisiana Baptist Convention hosting hundreds of youth at HBCU with spiritual, academic focuses
By Grambling State University Media Bureau
Dr. Pogue speaks to guest campers.
Grambling, LA – About 400 elementary, middle and high school students from nearly every part of Louisiana are attending the first summer camp offered by the Greater Louisiana Baptist Convention.
The Youth Empowerment Retreat has the theme “Changing One Life at a Time,” and Rev. Daniel Smith Sr. said the campers will go home with a better understanding of their relationship with God as well as what opportunities they have beyond high school. The camp is being hosted by Grambling State University, on the main campus in the City of Grambling and at Grambling State University West Campus: R.W.E. Jones Annex in Ruston.
Smith, director general of the convention’s summer camp, said in an interview Monday afternoon that a small staff and a host of volunteers from Baptist churches from Alexandria, Lafayette, Monroe, West Monroe, Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge, Shreveport and elsewhere are making things happen. “We couldn’t do this without them,” he said.
At an opening session in the university’s Black and Gold Room in the Favrot Student Union Monday, President Frank G. Pogue urged about 200 of the students to strongly consider Grambling State University – with a focus on doing well in school and completing high school.
“We want you to be serious about your future so that you can be a highly productive citizen for the rest of your life,” said Pogue, urging them all to have fun while on campus while keeping an eye on what’s important in the numerous sessions and workshops. “I want to see you back here, I want to see you have fun and I want you to leave here with something that says Grambling on it.”
With Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Gloria George serving as emcee, the students heard from admissions, financial aid, student life, spirit group and athletics representatives, often bursting into applause while wearing camp and church pullovers and teeshirts of various colors. George and others gave the students a lot of good information about how to prepare for college, and they gave away some black and gold Grambling State University freebies.
Rev. Willie Maynard Jr., the GLBC president, said it was important that the convention bring its summer program to Grambling State. “We’re losing ground with our young people when it comes to our black colleges, and we pastors have to do a better job making sure they know about these opportunities.”
Rev. Sam Lofton Jr., GLBC’s youth director and pastor of education and youth at Good Hope Baptist Church in Lafayette, La., said the convention’s mission calls for such a program and it is an outgrowth of quarterly youth events. “In partnership with Grambling State University we want our youth to focus on the spiritual and the academic, making sure they know what’s expected and what opportunities they have before them,” he said.
Diamond Fountain, 14, gets it. “We’re learning that we don’t need to be ashamed of worshipping God no matter where we are and who we are with,” she said.
Fountain has visited the university previously, but she had not experienced it as she has this week. “The dorms are kind of cozy, and that’s nice,” said Fountain, a rising ninth grader at Scotlandville Magnet High School in Baton Rouge. who carries a 3.5 GPA. “The food is AWESOME! I’m in love with French fries and their French fries are spiced just right. I love them.”
Fountain, who attends Greater King David Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, said though she’s been on campus before she had not taken a tour until this week. “There are real nice buildings here,” she added. She plans to be a music education major and she likes what she sees.
Ante’ Britten, assistant vice president for administration, worked with the convention leadership to bring the group to the campus. The camp continues through Thursday. “This is a first for them and a first for us,” said Britten, who supervises the university’s facilities and grounds. “We were really happy that they chose our university for their first summer camp, and we’ll do what we can to make sure they return next year.”
Maynard said this is not a one-time activity and the convention wants to build a partnership with Grambling State University. “The president made us feel special and made some special adjustments to suit us, so we want to have university faculty and staff involved with what we do on a regular basis,” said Maynard, who has pastored St. Paul Baptist Church in Opelousas, La., and St. James Baptist Church in Roanoke, La., for 33 years. “This isn’t something we’re just doing; we’re building something here.”
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