Director Looks Forward to First Camp Season


By: Matthew Johnson Connectional Ministries and Communications Assistant

Camp Lake Stephens in Oxford has changed the lives of many youths for the better. New executive director Russ Polsgrove was once a youth attending summer camp there. Now as the leader at Camp Lake Stephens, Polsgrove is working to make sure the camp continues to be a peaceful place to have spiritual change and hear God’s voice in nature.

New Camp Lake Stephens Director
Russ Polesgrove.
After a thorough search of candidates from Mississippi and beyond, Camp Lake Stephen’s board of directors were impressed with Russ Polsgrove’s skills and history.

“We had a fantastic interview process,” said Rev. Smith Lilly, head of Camp Lake Stephens board of directors. “Russ has a deep passion and history with Camp Lake Stephens. He knows the discipleship process, and we wanted someone who knew how to develop disciples for the next generation. Russ is already off to a great start.”

Polsgrove is a native of Memphis, Tennessee and has served as pastor and youth pastor at churches in North Mississippi and as a counselor, chaplain and retreat speaker at Camp Lake Stephens. He and his wife Anna have four young children. Polsgrove’s first visit to Camp Lake Stephens occurred when he was 10 years old.

“I had a cousin who was Methodist,” said Polsgrove. “One summer, she told me you have to see this place.”

From that summer forward, Polsgrove fell in love with Camp Lake Stephens. The camp holds a special place in his heart for him as a retreat where he could escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life to find peace and serenity in God’s creation.
Russ, Anna and their four children.
“As a youth, I had trouble finding my place,” said Polsgrove. “Camp Lake Stephens was the first place for me to safely explore my faith, I was accepted and cared for, and it was the first place God spoke to me.”

Attendance numbers for summer camp declined the previous two years because of the pandemic, but Polsgrove is excited about this year because he can open the doors and let more people attend.

 “We weren’t able to have camp in 2020, and in 2021 we were at half capacity. “This year we are full speed ahead,” said Polsgrove.

In addition to being a place of rest and renewal for Polsgrove, Camp Lake Stephens is also the place he met his wife and where their wedding was held. The couple are also camp parents as their children ages 11, 10, 6 and nine months attend summer camp. Polsgrove is thankful for the opportunity to lead a place so important to his life and Christian journey. As executive director, he plans to honor the past while building new pathways for future campers and attendants to find their place, be cared for and grow spiritually.
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“Right now, we live in a culture that’s over the top in terms of connectivity.” Camp Lake Stephens can be a place where people experience rest and sabbath,” said Polsgrove.

Summer camps are filling up quickly, but still have spaces available. Interested churches and youth groups can find more information on camps and register to attend here.
Summer Campers and Counselors
Courtesy Camp Lake Stephens.


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