SWO Stories: Stephanie Ferguson
My name is Stephanie Ferguson and as a Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters alumni I would like to share my experiences and express my gratitude. Firstly, I would like to praise the Lord for the way He has woven the people and ministry at Snowbird into my life. Secondly, I would like to thank all those who gave financially way back in 2008 so that I could attend a week of camp on scholarship!
My first experiences with the staff at Snowbird were getting to know them at a local church and being invited to spend a week with my youth group at camp. I am proud to be from the small town of Andrews, where SWO is located. These folks are not only invested in the students who come from far away but those in their own backyard.
I was a 13-year-old who was involved in church, but I owe a lot of my spiritual instruction to the folks at Snowbird. That summer a girl named Charissa Gray was my counselor. I honestly don’t remember much of the “play-time” from that week, but I do remember hours that she spent with our group of girls, asking about our lives and seeking to know us. The next year I began meeting weekly with another SWO staffer named Hannah Morgan (now Vernon). She taught me how to read and study Scripture, and apply it to my life.
Because of these relationships, I desired to be even more involved in the ministry at SWO. I wound up becoming a part of the staff for the summer by volunteering on Servant Team. This program provides intense discipleship of high school students. We learned about leadership through service; serving others for the sake of glorifying God and not for the sake of recognition.
This community continually poured into me and I came back to SWO to work on Transition Team, where I was taught what it looked like to disciple or teach other girls the things I had learned. This was done with other girls my age hoping to move into a “normal” summer staff role. In 2013 I began counseling students outside my role on Transition Team. I was able to work with the Missions and Outreach branch of Snowbird (SMO). In this program the focus is evangelism. I counseled students and helped direct their vision for serving and evangelizing in their home communities.
This is an extremely streamlined version of my experience at SWO. There isn’t room to fully describe the ways that these people have impacted my walk with the Lord, the way I view suffering, the way I view the love of God, the justice, the mercy, the wrath of God, and a life lived in a manner worthy of the gospel.
It was bittersweet for me to leave Andrews to head off to college. Not only because I was leaving my biological family, but also because I was saying “see ya later“ to the family of God at SWO. Where am I now? I am in my third year at NC State University. I get to serve people here in the city of Raleigh, I get to reach the nations, I get to be a part of a healthy community, I get to see my SWO family on holidays and hear from them often. I’m so grateful to look back to that middle school girl and track the progression of how the Lord used SWO. I would say this experience has changed me in every part of life, because SWO is about Jesus, and Jesus changes everything.
– Stephanie Ferguson