After three years as a volunteer, Hunter Gasaway nows earns a salary at Camp Peniel. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro
Hunter Gasaway was unsure if being a paid counselor at Camp Peniel in Marble Falls was the right move for him this summer. He spent the past three summers as an unpaid counselor-in-waiting. Only three days into the role, he is convinced he made the right choice.
“It’s the joy of working with students and getting to share the word of God with them and the grace of salvation,” said the 18-year-old. “And, the excitement of new challenges every day. Sometimes, we have some tough kids. Maybe they don’t want to participate. They get scared.”
The 2020 graduate of Marble Falls High School had 10 days of staff training before the facility welcomed its first day-campers of the summer on June 6.
The workday begins at 7:45 a.m. After getting the campers up and dressed, they head to a morning devotional followed by breakfast. Next is teaching campers a new skill such as archery or kayaking. At noon, they eat lunch, and at 2 p.m., the campers go to Bible study.
Later in the afternoon, Gasaway leads his campers on another activity, which might be horseback riding or swimming. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m. The cabins join together after that for games and competitions. At night, campers and counselors gather around a campfire to sing, tell stories, and have a snack before lights out. At the end of each week, campers put on a presentation for parents as the grand finale.
Gasaway has been coming to Camp Peniel for years. Though he was never a camper, he was a work crew member, which meant washing dishes, picking up and emptying trash, and other cleaning and maintenance duties.
“I fell in love with the message of the camp and sharing the Gospel,” he said. “We have lots of opportunities, and we try to find times to incorporate the Gospel.”
The son of Kara and Jeff Gasaway, Hunter is double majoring in radio/TV/film and social work at the University of Texas at Austin. He sees his role at Camp Peniel as an advocate, keeping campers calm and reassuring newcomers that “it’s going to be OK.”
“I’ve got you, God’s got you, we’re going to help you out,” he said. “Every day all day long, it’s teaching me a lot.”