, news editor, Adventist Review
A 23-year-old wakeboard instructor at a Seventh-day Adventist-operated summer camp in the U.S. state of Georgia has died after a water accident at a lake some 30 miles (50 kilometers) from the camp..
Will Green, a long-time staff member at Cohutta Springs Youth Camp and winner of wakeboard competitions, died on Monday night, just a day after the opening of a June 21-28 wakeboard specialty camp for teens aged 13 to 17, said the Georgia-Cumberland Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, which owns the camp.
“Our hearts are heavy with grief, and we are praying that God brings comfort and peace to the family and all those involved,” the conference
said in a statement Tuesday.
The accident happened on Carters Lake, located about a 45-minute drive from the camp’s 800 acres (324 hectares) of property in the mountains of northern Georgia.
Camp director Rob Lang paid tribute to Green on
the camp’s Facebook page.
“Will was one of the most genuine Christian young men,” Lang said. “We were so blessed to have him share his talents with us at Cohutta.”
Green, a native of Sanford, Florida, who worked as a wakeboard instructor at the camp for several summers, spoke about his enthusiasm for wakeboarding and for God in a 2012 video posted on the camp’s Facebook page.
“If I could have the opportunity to do anything, I’d want to be wakeboarding. It’s something I’ve put a lot of time into and it’s just a lot of fun,” said Green, seated in a motorboat. As he speaks, footage is shown of him nimbly jumping, twisting, and soaring atop a wakeboard on a lake.
“But really to be honest with you, God is way more important to me than wakeboarding,” Green said. “And if there is anything in wakeboarding that’s going to be a distraction to me with my relationship with God, then I’m always going to choose God over wakeboarding. … Wakeboarding is awesome and everything, but God is way cooler.”
Will Green describing his love for wakeboarding and God in a 2012 video published on Cohutta Springs Youth Camp's Facebook page.
Details about the accident were unclear. A woman who answered the camp’s phone number said she was not authorized to discuss the accident and referred all questions to Lang, whom she said was not immediately available.
Tamara Wolcott Fisher, communication director for the Georgia-Cumberland Conference, who released the statement, said she was waiting for more information from the camp.
She said pastors and counselors have been dispatched to the camp, which holds sessions for campers aged 7 to 18 during the summer months, to help the campers and staff members deal with their grief.
Wakeboarding is a surface water sport where a participant rides on a wakeboard as it is towed by a motorboat at speeds of 18 to 25 miles per hour (30 to 40 kilometers per hour). The sport has been described as a combination of water skiing, snowboarding, and surfing.
Green was a wakeboard professional who recently won the 2015 USA Wakeboard Collegiate Nationals, according to the conference’s statement. He also placed third in the 2014 USA Wakeboard Nationals and first in the Men B USA Wakeboard Florida Regionals.
He graduated from Forest Lake Academy, an Adventist boarding high school near Orlando, Florida, in 2010, and his mother, Jennifer Green, is an English teacher at the academy, according to
the academy’s Facebook page.
Green was much loved by campers.
“I know Will touched a lot of people’s lives,” wrote one well-wisher, Brianna Nicole, on the camp’s Facebook page. “He taught my brother how to wakeboard.”
“My son was wakeboarding with him last summer and [Green] made a huge impression on him,” said another, Monica Zepp Peeke. “So sad to hear this news. Please come soon Lord Jesus!”
Update on June 24, 2015:
A memorial service for Will Green will be held at 4 p.m. on Sabbath, June 27, at the
Markham Wood Seventh-day Adventist Church in Longwood, Florida, the Georgia-Cumberland Conference announced Wednesday.
“Please continue to keep this family in your prayers,” it said in an e-mail to pastors, teachers, and other conference employees.
Update No. 2 on June 25: