The party animals will be out Saturday night for a back-to-school youth rally at the Old Frontier. The event has been nicknamed "Emufest" in honor of Elvis and Elvira, the two resident emus at the campground.
"They just kind of wander around the old frontier, and they're really friendly. ... It's kind of off the wall, but that's what kids like," said David Lambert, Minister of Students at First Baptist Church.
Young people wandering around the camp during the rally will find free food and drinks, sand volley ball, tug of war, a big slip-and-slide, a dunking booth and live music from local bands.
The rally is open to all middle and high school students. Camp Director Chris Smith said churches are invited to bring their youth groups, and individuals are invited also.
"We've got some churches coming in from Augusta and surrounding towns. ... It's all about having something to do for the young people in the community in a positive way," Mr. Smith said.
Although the event is free, Mr. Smith said a tent will be set up at the entrance for teens to register for safety and security reasons. He encourages parents to drop off their teens and leave a phone number in case of emergency. Large groups are encouraged to come in a bus or van to help alleviate parking issues.
The bands scheduled to play are Final Harvest from Augusta and The Slant from Thomson. Both are contemporary Christian style music.
The featured speaker for the evening will be Jon Gillis, an author, speaker and the founder of eLife Ministries in Atlanta. Mr. Lambert said Mr. Gillis was the camp pastor at Centrifuge, a Southern Baptist camp at Myrtle Beach, where members of the First Baptist youth group went this summer.
"He was a fantastic communicator with students," Mr. Lambert said. "He doesn't beat around the bush. He's very honest and straight to the point, and he's also really funny."
Although the emus are supposed to be a fun mascot for the event, Mr. Smith said there is an object lesson behind their choice. Mr. Smith said Elvis once roamed the streets of Thomson. Several years ago, as a farm manager Mr. Smith said he would receive calls from the local 911 dispatch, saying someone had sighted an emu. By the time he would arrive at the location, the emu would be gone. Mr. Smith said he chased the emu around for several months before catching it and moving it to the Old Frontier.
"The same way that we rescued Elvis off the streets of Thomson, we want to bring in roaming kids and show them the way home," Mr. Smith said.
T-shirts featuring the emufest logo will be sold at the rally for $5. The event is from 4-9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 12 at the Old Frontier Christian Campground on Old Milledgeville Road in Thomson. For more information, visit the website at www.theoldfrontier.com, or call 706-533-2544.