All Roads Lead Back to Camp

Marilyn Means spent her adult life traveling and presenting in West Tennessee schools. To talk with Marilyn about her beloved electric company from which she recently retired, is to be inspired about the necessity of farmer established electric co-ops in the 1930’s. She speaks with such authenticity and inspiration about her former job, her faith, her journey with Christ, and it all began as a Girls in Action camper at Tennessee Baptist Conference Centers at our Linden Valley location.

When I met Marilyn, it was her first time back on campus in fifty years. That day she walked to the cabin up on the hill where she stayed, walking on the restored original wood floors and putting her hand on the bunk where she would’ve stayed in. She teared up with the same inspirational tone about how special it was to her that the same ministry is still reaching the lives of young people today. Now she returns to advocate for its well-being as a board of director.

Like many of her generation, Marilyn never knew anything but church growing up. Her mother was a faithful member of the WMU while Marilyn attended Sunbeams. “I started my life in church, I knew about God and thought I was a Christian through the faith of my parents” Marilyn recalls. She went to choir, family devotionals, she would even lay awake and think about God, but all of this didn’t create a faith but prepared the soil for seeds that would soon be laid. A pivotal moment happened in her life when she found out her best friend was attending G. A. camp at Linden Valley. Marilyn would like to join her but there was no extra money for camp, and she had never been away from home before. Nevertheless, through the providence of God and Tennessee Baptists, she found herself on the top bunk in Cuckoo cabin. Evenings in the Tabernacle soon became her favorite part of the day. Each evening God continued to work in her heart until she understood what it meant to personally have Jesus in her life.

As Marilyn explained to me, many people think they know Christ until they truly feel the Holy Spirit. Camp gave her a place to experience the genuine presence of God. She felt that feeling that night and has taken the presence of God with her ever since. When Marilyn drove up the drive at Linden Valley, it all came flooding back. She leans forward and I can see the honesty in her eyes as she says, “I came as one that was searching and left as one that was found. It was a beautiful feeling. Life hasn’t been perfect, but God has been with me ever since I came to know Jesus in the Tabernacle at twelve years old.”

Marilyn now supports Tennessee Baptist Conference Centers from her seat on the Committee and plans to jump in as a volunteer wherever she can. She’s passionate to help the ministry that provided a place for her to experience God and for Tennessee Baptist Conference Centers to keep doing the same for the next generation. Join Marilyn and her fellow supporters by volunteering, signing up for our newsletter, or giving to our We Must Have a Place initiative funding new cabins for campers like Marilyn at Linden Valley.

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