Growing Leaders and Disciplemakers

“When I graduated from college, every job required two years of experience, but it is hard to get meaningful work experience,” Abby Anderson reflected.

“So much of our 20s is spent figuring out what we are good at, and we don’t really know until we have the opportunity to try out different skills. The Eagle Lake Camps Emerging Leader Program gave me real responsibility and meaningful work experience. In addition, having leaders intentionally invest in me and give me in-depth feedback to guide me in my development was a huge boost to my own growth as a leader.”

Abby Anderson (3rd form left) enjoying outdoor time with her high school Bible study group.
Abby Anderson (3rd form left) enjoying outdoor time with her high school Bible study group.

Abby was part of the first group of participants in the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) in 2015. The Navigators has offered EDGE Corps® for more than 20 years, providing hands-on experience working on the college campus with The Navigators collegiate ministry. The Eagle Lake Camps ELP has a different emphasis, focusing on business leadership experience while also developing a lifestyle of ministry involvement.

The process of transformation that takes place during the two-year ELP program is a continuation of the impact of camp on the lives of young people. Abby and other ELP participants trace their Eagle Lake involvement back to years as campers and counselors.

“I was first introduced to Eagle Lake Camps as a high school camper,” Abby remembers. “It was because of the Life-to-Life® investment of my camp counselors that I began to walk with Jesus. My counselors read the Bible with me, shared their life with me, and made sure we had fun along the way. Their lives gave me a vision for what it looked like to walk with Jesus not just in high school, but in the years to come as well.

“After the impact my counselors had in my life, I knew I wanted to invest in someone else the same way. I began discipling younger girls during my last few years of high school, teaching them what my counselors had taught me. I knew that I also wanted to disciple others in the camp setting. I returned to work at Eagle Lake Camps each summer during college and was given the opportunity to disciple others. I continued to grow in my walk with Jesus and am grateful for the seed that was planted when I was a camper at Eagle Lake.”

The experience of professional and personal growth through the ELP includes discovering strengths and building skills. Emily Hanstad had been a camper and counselor at Eagle Lake Camps but discovered new facets of her gifting through the ELP:

During my time on ELP I learned so much about myself. When I was a camp counselor I quickly morphed to fit in with the crazy and energetic counselors around me. Taking a step back from that setting, I found I had many abilities and strengths in the administrative world. I started ELP thinking I wanted to lead programs, be on stage, and influence others from up front. I left the program understanding God had gifted me in a totally different way. After completing ELP, I have continued to work on the Eagle Lake Camps staff using my administrative abilities. I am overjoyed to continue to move the organization forward and teach kids exactly what I learned at Eagle Lake, the importance of knowing Jesus and giving all of yourself to Him.

Along with significant business experience and growth in leadership skills, ELP develops young adults to engage in life-long disciplemaking, whatever their chosen career field. Abby, who is now a supervisor on the Development team at The Navigators, continues to disciple high school girls in her community.

“I prayed that God would give me girls to disciple in the same way that I had discipled campers,” Abby said. “There were a couple of girls I had met at camp who wanted to keep studying God’s Word deeply during the school year, continuing to grow in their faith as they did at camp. Allison (another ELP graduate) and I spent two years investing in Life-to-Life discipleship with six high school girls.”

Abby (top right) and her high school girls’ Bible study.

Some of the girls moved away after high school graduation, but Abby met with those who are attending college locally and asked them how they wanted to move forward.

One of the more reserved girls said, “I’m terrified to say this, but I think it’s time that we start discipling other girls, just like you discipled us.”

So now a new group of high school girls are being discipled by these college women, under Abby’s leadership. This is the transformational effect on peoples’ lives spiritually that starts with young people at camp, moves into daily life, and grows wider to reach others through the years.

Pray for those campers who are learning the good news about Jesus through Eagle Lake On Location day camps this summer. Praise God for the seeds that are planted in young hearts, to create a foundation of faith.


  1. I love this!! Abby and Emily, you have both been such an encouragement and inspiration to me. You overflow with the joy and light of Christ!!

  2. When I became a Christian in 1982 I was in my forties. By God’s grace I found a men’s Bible study and met a young man who came to my home on Saturday morning to disciple me. He used Navigator materials. Later he became a Navigator. I’ll never forget. Grateful!

  3. Great story, I was hugely impacted by going to Eagle Lake over 50 years ago. It created a lifetime change. Thanks for writing this.

  4. Abby, I’m so glad we are talking about discipleship and that you will be a part of the conversation.

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