It was my sophomore year of college at NWC now the University of Northwestern St. Paul. I said yes to go on a Summer Training Project, not really knowing what I had signed up for. Andrew, this staff guy who at points felt like a “used car salesmen”, got me to sign up. I always wondered why Andrew really pushed me to go (and had been now for almost two years), and it was later that summer when I realized why.  My life would forever be changed.

That summer, I went to Myrtle Beach, SC to a hotel we rented called the “Retreat Center”. Now I had been on summer camps growing up, but this was way different. For starters, I worked at a water park called Wild Water and Wheels. Its sounds like fun, but don’t be deceived it wasn’t what you would expect. Then every night we had training seminars like bible study training, evangelism training, theme training, and more. We had so much fun on dress up nights for putt putt, group dates, playing beach games, and other fun late at night.

That summer I learned so much. The things I will always remember apart from the “spinach” Mark Batluck talk (ask me about it some time), was how much I needed the Gospel and community. The secret of Summer Training Project is getting the Word of God and the people of God together. This is a combination that helped me grown a ton in my faith. Every morning I would study the Bible with other students; and every evening to go to a training sessions. I learned my need for the Gospel everyday. This is not just a Sunday and Wednesday thing, it is your entire life.

That summer we studied Colossians and the theme was “Real” based off of Col 2:17 “These are a shadow of the things to come but the reality belongs to Christ”. That summer there were talks on “Real Freedom”, “Real Family”, “Real God”, “Real Love”, and many more!

In saying all of this, I would love to say that everything about my summer was easy… It wasn’t! I had three roommates that could not be more different. I was your classic jock, one of my roommates loved technology (bit of a nerd), one was in theater and enjoyed the arts, and the last was in a serious relationship. I had to work through conflict, and saw so much of my selfishness, but I also realized there was so much I had in common with these guys that I normally wouldn’t have given much time to.

Can you make more money staying at home? Maybe. Are there things that will be hard and challenging? YES! Can you have the best summer of your life apart from STP? Maybe, but it is an amazing experience that I would not trade at all. There are other places that offer the Word of God and people of God, but I would encourage you to step out in faith and come. I can’t promise the best summer of your life, but it will be an amazing summer you will never forget.

Reid Jilek
Campus Outreach Minneapolis
North Area Director

P.S. Apply for STP 2016 here!