A19-year-old Seventh-day Adventist camp worker drowned while snorkeling in the U.S. state of Michigan over the weekend.
George Jameson was swimming with friends at a secluded lake about a 10-minute drive from Adventist Church-owned Camp Au Sable, the church’s Michigan Conference said.
“As they were snorkeling to view some of the underwater nature, George called out for help and then he sank out of sight despite the attempts by fellow staff to rescue him,” the conference said in a statement.
“911 was immediately called,” it said. “Our camp director, camp physician, and camp manager rushed to the scene, and together they were able to find him and pull him out. Despite valiant efforts to resuscitate, he was lost to us.”
Jameson, the eldest of three sons, graduated in May from Great Lakes Adventist Academy in Cedar Lake, Michigan, and was working at Camp Au Sable in Grayling, Michigan, for a second summer in a row. His younger brothers, Silas and Michael, are students at Great Lakes Adventist Academy, and his mother, Rachel Jameson, is a longtime Michigan Conference teacher who works as a principal and teacher in Edenville, Michigan.
“Our hearts are broken over the tragic loss of this very fine Christian young man,” the Michigan Conference statement said. “Our deepest sympathies go out to his family and the Camp Au Sable staff. ‘We have this hope’ that we will see him again one day soon. “
Funeral arrangements were not immediately available.
Jameson’s death prompted an outpouring of grief on social media, with an announcement on Camp Au Sable’s Facebook page receiving hundreds of comments and shares in just a few hours.
Cindy Hainault Peterson, who taught Jameson in senior Bible class at Great Lakes Adventist Academy, wrote that his Bible class presentations were “spiritually mature and right on.” She also said Jameson had been a blessing to her own father by visiting him two to three times a week as part of a student-retiree program.
“He would be the first to say, ‘Praise God for the blessed hope of the second coming,’” she said. “Today that means even more. Can't wait to see you again my friend. Thanks for the Christ-centered legacy you have left us.”
Terikay Papendick, who supervised Jameson when he worked evenings at the academy’s cafe, described him as “loving and kind and very mature for his age.”
“He had a great burden for the young people and GLAA and prayed with me over students’ difficulties,” she said. “He was fair and never asked a student to do anything that he wasn't willing to do himself. He was a wonderful role model.”
Several Adventist summer camps offered their condolences.
“Our hearts here at North Star Camp join in the sadness of the loss of a camp staffer,” Jose Torres, director of the Adventist Church-run summer camp in Minnesota and youth director of the Minnesota Conference, wrote on Camp Au Sable’s Facebook page. “Know that our camp prayed for the staff of Camp Au Sable.”
This is the third death at an Adventist summer camp in the United States this summer. A 21-year-old Pacific Union College student, Kevin Canavan, drowned while swimming in a river during his day off from his job at Camp Wawona in California on July 5. Brian Robak, 28-year-old contract worker for Big Lake Youth Camp in Oregon, died in a fall while hiking solo in mountains on a day off work in late June.
Ron Whitehead, director of the Andrews University-based Center for Youth Evangelism in Berrien Springs, Michigan, paid tribute to Jameson as a “forever faithful camp ministry staffer.”
“Forever Faithful” was the theme of the 2014 Pathfinder Camporee that Whitehead also directed.
Writing on Facebook, Whitehead indicated that he found comfort in Jesus’ words in John 14:1-3: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (NKJV).
“Our hearts are broken, and our prayers go out to everyone affected by this loss,” Whitehead said. “Let us all stay ‘forever faithful’ as we keep looking up.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly gave George Jameson's age as 18. He was 19.