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Staff Feature: Abby Ponder

  • Hometown:  Colonial Heights, Va
  • University:  Liberty University
  • Degree:  Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN)
  • Year in school:  Graduated May 2017
  • Favorite camp song/cheer:
    • There are a lot of really great cheers that come with camp, but there is just something special about screaming the Bobo on the top of your lungs.
    • It is really hard for me to pick just one favorite camp song, but I really enjoy singing and dancing to Faço o Melhor.
  • Favorite word in Portuguese:
    • Abacaxi. It means pineapple, which is my favorite fruit. And it’s super fun to say.
  • Favorite Bible Verse/Life verse:
    • Romans 5:8
  • Favorite dance move:
    • My go-to crowd pleaser is the Worm haha! I learned how to do it when I was in elementary school, and I have definitely used this talent at camp several times! 🙂

Abby Ponder has always had a heart for international ministries, but after three years of prayer and some unexpected changes in her education path, she finally had the opportunity to serve with WinShape Camps International Project in Brazil beginning in the spring of 2016.

Her first trip to Brazil with WSC International, however, wasn’t her first experience with WinShape. She began working camp back in 2013 at WSC for Girls at Mt. Berry as a lifeguard for the Cheyenne Tribe.

“I kept thinking to myself, ‘What have you gotten yourself into? You do not know any of these people you will work with and you are spending the summer far from home,’” she said.

Her initial fears quickly turned into a deep love for WinShape Camps that has persisted the past five summers as she has served at camp both in Mt. Berry and Brazil.

“My first summer was an absolute dream and I just knew I had to be back for more,” she said. “As I started my summer as tribal leader, I was just in awe of how the Lord had brought me to that point from my first summer of not even being sure about ‘the whole camp thing.’”

Since her first summer, Abby has served as a counselor for two summers, the assistant tribal leader of the Cherokee tribe, tribal leader of the Catawba tribe, and as the volunteer coordinator for the Brazil team.

This past summer served as fruition of many prayers that Abby had been praying since her first summer with WinShape — which also marked the first summer that WSC International sent a team to Brazil for the summer.

“I remember thinking, ‘Wow, I know that is going to be so awesome!’ I learned about the international projects they did in Brazil, and prayed about someday hopefully being able to go on one of those trips.”

An unexpected change in her college plans made this dream possible, just two years later.

“One summer when I finished serving at camp, I realized that my time in college was going to be five years instead of four. Two of the biggest blessings that came out of that extra year of school were the two trips I took with camp to Brazil.”

Abby first served on a one-week team for a spring International Project trip during the spring of 2016. One short year later, she returned with WSC International to serve on a team for the entire summer.

“I grew such a big love for the country of Brazil, it’s people, and the ministry that was taking place through the partnership of WinShape Camps and LifeShape Brazil,” she said. “Towards the end of my fourth summer, I had prayers and hopes for being able to go to camp after I graduated but was just so unsure that I would be able to do so, seeing that I needed to take my NCLEX (state board exam for nursing) and to get a job.”

However, once again, the Lord provided a way for Abby to return to camp — but this time in Brazil.

“It was an amazing summer, and I cannot imagine spending my 2017 summer any other way,” she explained. “Brazil is a special place, and I am so thankful to have been a part of the ministry that is growing there for God’s glory.”

Whether in the United States or in Brazil, Abby cannot deny that God has been actively working through her each summer at WinShape.

“Jesus has proven Himself faithful time after time through my years serving through WinShape, and I know that my years spent serving camp will continue to have a ripple effect in everything I do the rest of my life.”

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