One of the most quintessential summer activities growing up is attending camp. Whether through church, scouts, or sports, we all have many fun stories about attending camps in our youth. However, camps cost a pretty penny nowadays. The average cost of summer camp programs in the United States ranges from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Such a hefty price tag can put a severe financial strain on families and make it difficult for students to attend these incredible programs.
In late 2021, Northland shifted café operations to let a different ministry take ownership each week and therefore reap the financial benefits that came with it. So we had two needs: We needed people to run café operations on the weekends, and students needed a way to pay for their scholarships to summer program.
“After looking at our scholarship account and knowing how many families had financial needs coming out of the pandemic, we knew we wouldn’t be able to just pass out scholarships to everyone who asked,” said Student Ministries Administrator Kim Andrescik. “Café takeover came at the perfect time. It provided our students a way to ‘work’ and earn their own scholarship money. Many of our students found a sense of pride through earning their own money rather than just asking for a scholarship.”
Kim informed the families that this would be their new method of providing scholarship help. She emailed out the dates each month to the families and let them know that whoever worked the café would divide up the proceeds amongst themselves to go towards retreats and camps.
“Café takeover has been a huge benefit to our single moms,” said Kim. “I know it helped Aiden Holton and over a dozen other students, who never would have been able to attend camps this year without this fundraising effort.”
Aiden Holton shared his experience fully funding not just one, but two summer camps through his service in the café.
Tell us about your experience volunteering in the café!
Aiden: It’s pretty fun, especially when your friends are volunteering with you. It’s very exciting when you’re volunteering to make money for your trip. I paid off two trips, one for MFUGE and one for Student Life. So I did it all for free. It’s very fun and exciting when you accomplish it, and when it’s done, you get to relax a bit and enjoy it.
What called you to serve in the café?
Aiden: I’ve been here for nineteen years, and people have always served me and molded me into the person I am today, so this is my way of giving back. From a physical standpoint, I’m very broke, so I like when I don’t have to pay for stuff.
In May, singer-songwriter Matthew West held a concert at Northland as a part of his “The Brand New Tour.” Typically, the café is open during events, with only light snacks and drinks available for purchase. A small team of students volunteered to work this Thursday night event. They were blown away by the response they received from those in attendance.
Tell us about the Matthew West concert!
Aiden: That was the best turnout yet! We were just selling snacks and it was only four of us. That night alone, I was able to pay off the rest of my high school trip and all of the trip to serve with the middle schoolers. It was very hectic at some times, we kept ordering pizzas because people kept ordering it, so we had to keep buying it.
Through serving at this one event, Aiden was able to pay for the rest of his MFUGE trip and for the entirety of his trip to serve the middle school students.
What does it mean to you to be able to attend these events through your service?
Aiden: It gives me a sense of accomplishment. You deserve a reward for hard work. Being able to attend both of these trips without putting financial pressure on my mom since I was able to pay for it myself. It gives me a sense of maturity and responsibility because I did it all on my own.
So the next time you grab a cup of coffee or a bite to eat from the café, remember that you are contributing to stories like Aiden’s and helping our ministries flourish.