Two friends look forward to summer of furthering faith

Riverside Bible Camp is located in Story City, Iowa, but is more close to the heart of junior Rachel Ochoa and her family. “My uncle is now on the board of directors. I was told to go by my cousins. Josh and Becky are older than me, so they were the first ones to go and then when I came along, Joel went.”

Ochoa always remembers going to camp as a family affair. Cedar Falls alumni Becky Ochoa (class of 2015) and Josh Ochoa (2014) and sophomore Joel Ochoa are the aforementioned cousins, and convincing Rachel to go wasn’t hard, seeing as they only live one house away from each other.

Rachel had attended Riverside as a camper from the fourth grade to around the ninth or 10th grade. but now she’s returning as a counselor — in the footsteps of her older cousin Josh.  Josh was the first one to become a counselor. The summer after his senior year he became a JC (junior counselor), which is just below a senior counselor who has more responsibilities. “I’m going to be a junior counselor, Becky’s going to be a senior counselor and Josh will be rec fun guy,” Rachel said, smiling and nodding her head.

Rachel and junior Julie Jorgensen have been close friends for many years, girl scout pals and always getting mistaken for each other when they were younger, but now that they’re in high school, they’re advancing in their faith journeys together. Ochoa and Jorgensen attended Riverside Bible Camp together from the summer of sixth grade until the summer going into 10th grade, always requesting that they be in the same cabin, which they always were.

This summer, Jorgensen will be going on the 2016 Caravan trip. Caravan is an annual trip planned in the summer by Big House, a Wednesday night fellowship group at Nazareth Lutheran Church.  It typically lasts around seven to 10 days, depending on travel time to and from their destination.

Each day of the trip, travelers get a sermon, some quiet time, meetings with small groups and free time to see the sights of their destination. This year, Jorgensen is excited to travel to New York City with some of her best friends as they grow in their faiths.

“Honestly, it’s one of the greatest feelings ever, just being away from all the negativity that you have at home, all the baggage you carry and just leaving it all behind for a week is seriously the best thing ever,” Jorgensen said, reflecting on last year’s Caravan trip to Florida and Tennessee. “I don’t think I’ve had a feeling that’s ever topped that.”

For her, Caravan is the perfect time and place for fellowship and faith. “It’s constantly having those people around you as a reminder that God’s always with you, and you don’t have to carry that baggage alone,” Jorgensen said.

Two hearts, two destinations, one friendship rooted in faith.

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