Wednesdays with Jillene: legacy

I started working at Camp Vick in 1998. Even though my home church was a Baptist Church affiliated with camp but I can’t say I knew much about it at all. That all changed one afternoon. I’d been away for my first year of college and had returned to my hometown for the summer. Applied for all the jobs I could think of… no one even called me back.

After one Sunday service, when eating lunch with my (then) boyfriend’s family , his mom said to us, “They said in church that Camp Vick needs counselors. You should apply.”

And that we did.

A few short weeks later we joined, what would soon be to us, the Camp Vick Family. It is honestly hard to describe what it is like to work at camp. It is fun. But it is also very hard work. It didn’t take long for camp to win us over and, as you can see, we’ve been here pretty much ever since. Even the summer we were married. The only year we weren’t here was the summer our first son was born.

We became Camp Vick people.

MANY people are Camp Vick people because Camp Vick is almost 65 years old. We are kind of in its Golden Years. Camp Vick was purchased in 1951. The first overnight camp was run here in 1952. It was named Camp Vick in 1953.

Interesting point to ponder: Do you know why it is named Camp Vick.

I’ve heard some pretty fun theories throughout the years: Theory 1: Someone named Vick was the person who bought Camp Vick. Theory 2: Someone named Vick gave a lot of money to the camp. Theory 3: In a neat play on the word victory (as in victory in Christ) it was shortened to Vick and the “k” was added for fun. Theory 4: (okay this is less of a theory and more what people usually say to me) Hm… I have no idea why it is called Camp Vick.

Now, if you’ve been on staff or spent time in the Dining Hall then I sure hope you know from where Camp Vick derives its name, even if you don’t remember all the details. In fact, for me, knowing the history of the name of Camp Vick was part of our training from our first year on staff.  So… here is the summary…


For too many years I knew the details of the history without ever absorbing the heart. That is a big shame on my part. Thankfully, that all changed a few years ago.

The surviving son of Robert and Dorothy, Paul, 65 years after that tragic plane crash took his first trip back to trace the route he and his family had taken in China. He came to camp and presented on this trip. To this day I’m moved by what he experienced and what I gained by actually learning about his family.

img_1034See from the young age of 13, Robert Vick knew God had a call for his life. In fact, at one point he wrote this, “If I were to obey God’s voice speaking to me, I must dedicate my life to foreign missions.” It took years and with the partnership of his wife, Robert and Dorothy Vick were commissioned as missionaries to China in 1944. I’m amazed as I think of what that meant. This was, after all, the 1940s, travel was not as “easy” as it is now. They packed their young sons and in 1946 their small family began the journey to China.

But they never made it to their final destination.

On one of their flights in China an airplane accident occurred about a hundred miles from Hankow, China on Tuesday, January 28, 1947.  Dorothy and their three-year-old son, Theodore, and 23 others perished immediately with them.  The only survivor, except Robert who lived for only 40 hours afterwards, was their son Paul, then sixteen months old. It was after these faithful servants of God that Camp Vick was named in 1953.

I’d known all these details since my first summer on staff. Camp Vick was named in memory and honor of the Vick family, missionaries to China who tragically lost their lives. But when Paul shared with the staff, I heard something I’d missed before.

As Paul shared with us about his parents, their character, the impact of their ministry, the continuing work of American Baptists in China, there was one quote that shook me deeply. I quickly wrote these words down after what Paul had said sunk in…

“It is true that they knew how to give their lives for Christ. But, what is more, they knew how to live for Christ.”

[I’m gonna tell you, this still has me “feeling the feels, all of the feels.”]

Camp Vick is not just named in honor of people who died for Christ (as if that isn’t amazing enough!) but the Vick’s were known for living for Christ.

What a legacy.

Robert had heard God’s call on his life to International Missions beginning when he was just 13 years old. Upon setting out to fulfill that vision, he never made it to the mission field. And yet, the legacy of Robert and Dorothy lives on this day in their family, though International Ministries, and here at Camp Vick. A legacy of a life lived for Christ.

Ephesians 2 tells us of the great gift of God’s grace, mercy and love through Christ. In Romans 1, Paul admonishes us in view of all that God has done for us to, “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

God offers us the gift of salvation grace, through His mercy, by His love. Scripture is clear that there is nothing we can do to earn it. Yet, because of it, because of this amazing God who loves us so much, accepting in faith the gift of salvation changes our lives. Galatians 2 says, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” We live the gift.

And it isn’t an easy thing. Jesus said, ““If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

What a legacy to be known as people who lived their lives for Christ.

That is the legacy I want to leave. A legacy may be how you are known later, after you die, but it is made in how you live. May we be known as people who live for Christ.

There are days when we all question: What am I supposed to be doing in life? Am I doing enough? Does my life make a difference? Am I doing anything of significance.

I think these are existential questions we all must face. When comparing ourselves to someone else we often do not measure up. When evaluating the progress of our efforts (or lack thereof) it may look like we are on a treadmill instead of running a marathon. The impact of our lives is often something we cannot see from our vantage point. And here is where the Vick’s story gives me great hope, see, they never made it to service in China. The very thing Paul felt called to do since he was 13 and he never made it to his station.

And yet…

At the time and now, almost 70 years since their deaths, the Vick’s legacy continues to impact the world. Not only because they died but because they lived for Christ.

For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Romans 14:7-8

Today I’m reflecting on the Vick’s story and allowing God to challenge my heart/mind through it:

  • What legacy am I living?
  • How do I live today to be known as one who lives for Christ?
  • Jesus said to be his disciple means to daily take up my cross and follow him. In what do I need to “deny myself” and daily take up my cross to follow Him?
  • How do I live the love of Christ that people would see Christ in me?

How about for you? What do you think about legacy? How does the Vick’s story challenge or encourage you? How is God calling you today to live for Him?


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