When Sarah Brewer accepted an internship at Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters, a Christian camp in North Carolina, she was terrified. Up until that point, her life had been pretty predictable. She was raised here in Okeechobee by her loving parents, Kevin and Karen Brewer. She graduated from Okeechobee High School in 2011 and then went on to obtain an AA degree in accounting from IRSC and a BA in business from Florida Gulf Coast University, but once she finished college, she didn’t know where to go from there.
Sarah had always been a hard worker, and she found herself working three part-time jobs at once. She worked for IRSC, Publix Supermarket and for the Wicks, Brown & Williams accounting firm, but she just didn’t know what God had planned for her next.
Through her church, Everglades Baptist, Sarah had the opportunity last summer to go with a group of youth to Snowbird as one of their counselors.
While she was there, she ran into a girl who had been through an internship program Snowbird offers. She told Sarah all about it and suggested she give it a try. One of the benefits the girl explained to her was that she could take seminary classes while she was there, and Sarah had always wanted to do that because she feels it’s important to know why you believe what you believe.
After camp was over, Sarah did a lot of thinking and praying about the opportunity. She talked to her pastors and her Christian friends, who were mostly for the idea. She talked to her parents, and she said they were totally against the idea, although they eventually came around. She weighed the pros and cons. She figured out exactly how much money she would need to survive, because the internship only paid a small stipend. They provide housing and, if there is an activity going on, they provide food, but otherwise, Sarah is on her own. She knew she would need to pay her insurance and her phone bill and buy food at the very least. Because a full-time job she was right for never seemed to come up here in town, she finally decided to accept the internship, but it was very scary, she said. She was not 18 anymore, and most of the other interns were.
During the school year, students come in to the camp on Friday nights and leave on Sundays. It is the responsibility of the interns to share the Gospel with them and to talk with them about what they have heard. If the students are struggling with anything, the interns try to help them. Two days a week, they tutor local children in grades pre-K through eighth grade as a way to contribute to the community.
During the week, the interns take seminary classes. After lunch, they spend time working in their departments. Sarah’s department is cleaning crew.
They do things such as cleaning the worship center and cafeteria, set up tables, repaint doors, clean bathrooms, sweep, mop, etc.
It was hard at first, said Sarah, being so far away from friends and family, but there are so many things she has really enjoyed. She went on her first mission trip while she was there. They went to Honduras in December.
They went to an orphanage and spent time with the kids there. Snowbird is a high-adventure wilderness camp for kids, she explained, so they did some of those activities with the kids at the orphanage, too. They played paintball and archery tag. “It was a lot of fun,” she said, “but it made me very thankful for what I have in America, and I’m so thankful for my parents.”
The summer camps are coming up soon, and Sarah hasn’t experienced that yet, but she is looking forward to it. She said they usually have about 450 students each week during the summer, and the interns will be assigned to work with the students from a certain church as it comes in. They will stay with those students all the time except when they are on their assigned recreation post each day, things like the climbing tower, ropes course or zipline. The interns have to monitor these during recreation periods to keep the kids safe.
The summer sessions begin on May 27, and then Sarah will head home on Aug. 10. “I’m glad I did it,” she said. “It was a good experience for me, and I knew if I didn’t do it now, I never would.”