After 35 years, Camp La Vida continues decades of WMU camping ministry

Since opening in 1983, Camp La Vida, near Winnsboro, has served South Carolina Baptists as a missions discipleship camp for 35 years. This year, more than 1,300 campers, girls and boys ages 2nd-12th grades, are expected to attend one of 10 sessions scheduled for June and July. The camp is owned and operated by South Carolina Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), though campers are not limited to WMU groups or local church ministries.

Cindy Skelton, a South Carolina native and the WMU associate for Girls in Action and Children in Action, serves as Camp La Vida director. She is a Limestone College graduate with a master of religious education degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. She also served as a Journeyman to The Gambia in West Africa from 1988-1990. While in school, Cindy served on the summer staff of Camp La Vida for five summers. She is married to Rick Skelton of Greenville. They are members of St. Andrews Baptist Church in Columbia, where Cindy leads a 4th-6th grade Girls in Action group.

This year’s camp Bible verse will be from Luke 10:27-28:

“He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

“’You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this, and you will live.’” (NIV)

Skelton said, “This year’s Bible Studies will focus campers on seeing God at work, knowing Jesus, salvation, and God’s love. They will be challenged to continue to share God’s love wherever they go.” A special activity focusing on nature discovery will help campers see God’s handiwork.

Because of WMU’s long emphasis on missions education, campers will be joined by guest speakers that include an international missionary, a North American missionary, a state missions representative, and a Girls in Action (GA)/Acteens consultant. The guest speakers will visit with campers, hang out with them during casual times, and participate in worship services.

A session at Camp La Vida also includes traditional summer camp fun like swimming, a rock wall, archery, air rifles, pottery, interpretative movement, tent camping, outdoor cooking, adventure recreation, hiking, music, drama, crafts, and nature discovery.

The summer La Vida staff is made up of 22 South Carolina Baptist college students with 11 staffers returning from 2016. Camper registrations are accepted throughout the summer.

July sessions include:

  • July 10-12 | GA/Acteens Minicamp & GA Leader Track | Girls 2nd-12th Grade | $115
  • July 12-14 | CA/YM/GA Minicamp | Boys and Girls 2nd-12th Grade | $115
  • July 17-21 | CA/YM/GA Week | Boys and Girls 3rd-12th Grade | $230
  • July 24-28 | GA/Acteens Week & GA Leader Track | Girls 3rd-12th Grade | $230

In 2016, there were 1,316 summer campers at Camp La Vida. There were 45 professions of faith and 63 rededications. A $3,408.50 Cooperative Program offering was collected through the summer.

South Carolina WMU has a storied history in missions education camping, dating back to 1925 when it occurred on various college campuses, according to the Camp La Vida website at In 1941, recognizing a need for a permanent camp location, W.C. Rawls loaned South Carolina WMU a 50-acre site near Wagener, S.C., in Aiken County, provided the land was used as a camp. Camp Rawls was born and served from 1942 to 1982 when it closed for the opening of Camp La Vida in 1983.