Some of the most important moments of Asa Quinn's past have happened at Warren W. Willis United Methodist Camp. Now he wants to have a lasting impact on the camp's future as program coordinator.
Quinn, 27, has been associated with the camp since sixth grade–2001–his first year as a summer camper.
“It's been amazing because this place means so much to me,” Quinn said. “I accepted Christ as my Savior at this place. I met my wife at this place. We were married at this place. This is where I got my first job. So this place means a lot to me. For me to be able to grow and stay here and keep pouring into a place like this is really a dream come true.”
Quinn began his new role as program coordinator at Warren Willis on June 16, with a baby on the way. His wife, Amanda, is expecting in August.
“I am extremely blessed and grateful for how everything has fallen into place,” Quinn said. “It is a little overwhelming, learning on the job and also preparing for a child. But it is a joyful overwhelming. It's exciting to see what the future holds.”
Quinn grew up in DeLand, Fla. He graduated from DeLand High School in 2007 and from Florida State University in 2012, with a bachelor's degree in sports management and recreation.
While attending FSU, Quinn worked summers at Warren Willis, first as a camp counselor and later in a student leadership role. In 2012 he was offered a full-time after-school and recreation coordinator position.
Two of Quinn's mentors at Warren Willis recently relocated, creating the position he filled. Heather Pancoast, the assistant director, and her husband Joel, program manager, left the camp after a decade of service and started new positions as co-directors at Gator Wesley in Gainesville.
Quinn has known Joel Pancoast for nearly 15 years, since Quinn was in sixth grade and Joel was his youth director at First United Methodist Church in DeLand. Quinn got to know Heather when she supervised him at the camp for the past eight years.
“Those two have really molded me and made me the man I am today,” Quinn said of the Pancoasts. “They groomed me for this position, and I'm very thankful for that.”
Quinn says he wants to help preserve “for generations” the rich history and traditions of the summer camp, fostered for years by his supervisor, Mike Standifer, director of the camp since 2005 and director of Florida Conference Camps and Retreats, and Heather Pancoast. But Quinn is also interested in “growing the programs that we have in the summer. I hope I can be a huge part of that.”
Of Quinn, Standifer said: “He has a unique ability in relating to people, specifically college students.”
Planning and coordinating year-round retreats also is part of Quinn's role. He wants to impact the types of retreats offered, how they are run, who they are catering to and how those people's lives are changed and affected.
Amanda Quinn, whom Asa met at camp in 2008, is an elementary school teacher who previously worked as a camp counselor and in food services at Warren Willis.
Meeting his future wife is an important camp memory for Quinn. He also reflects fondly on being surrounded by the young campers' “carefree love-of-life” and adventurous spirit.
“Christ is moving through them and with them at this amazing place,” he said.
Warren W. Willis United Methodist Camp is located at 4990 Picciola Road, in Fruitland Park. For more information, call 352-787-4345.
Ed Scott is a freelance writer based in Venice.