Ignite fall leadership lined the walkway of Burdine 106 Tuesday night, jumping and cheering in excitement. With music playing in the background, co-chairs and prayer team members laughed and danced, waiting to welcome counselors into their new communities. Meanwhile, just outside the heavy, closed doors,139 counselors stood in the lobby dressed in an array of candies and holding boiled eggs, brooms and other obscure objects.
“As a counselor, your role and expectation is to take these incoming students, point them straight to the gospel and to the fact that God has a plan for their lives and show them they are incredibly loved,” said Sam Dunegan, director of Ignite 2019. “The overall big picture is to help these incoming students we are going to have in August find where God wants them to be on campus.”
Counselors form the majority of Ignite staff and hold a key role by directly serving and loving freshmen and acting as small group leaders in August. While co-chairs and prayer team spent the first semester training and building community in the fall, Ignite could not happen without counselors.
After praying and preparing all fall semester, Reveal was finally here. Following a full week of interviews and prospective counselors anxiously awaiting the news, it was finally time to welcome the most important addition to the “Igniteen” staff.
Senior co-chair Sydney Shin said she was “heck-a excited to have counselors.” In previous years, Shin served as a counselor in camp Taco Bell and NBA Jam.
“Experiencing the impact it made completely changed the way I viewed community and gave me people who would support me through everything,” Shin said. “I am looking forward to having another family because my past two camps did that so well for us.”
Standing in the foyer with a hard boiled egg in her hand, freshman Natalie Castiglioni described her enthusiasm about being a part of the Ignite family.
“I applied because I wanted to experience more of God’s love,” Castiglioni said. “I am excited and expecting this semester to be a lot of fun.”
When asked what she thought the theme of “Ignineteen” was she replied with “candy.”
At 9:30 p.m., the auditorium doors opened and the sound of fall leadership chanting “We -We love – We love our counselors” flooded the foyer as new staff came in.
After a quirky game, counselors sat with their camps and answered a riddle together which scattered them throughout the building to find their core four. During this time, counselors were introduced to the theme of Ignite and the new family they will spend a lot of time with in the coming months.
Near the end of the night, Dunegan formally welcomed spring leadership,speaking about why Ignite is important to him. Dunegan never attended Ignite Texas as a camper and when he entered UT, it was the first time he had been in an environment where Christianity was viewed as an inconvenience.
“When I was coming into UT, I had no idea what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be as an individual and what the future held,” Dunegan said. “Then I applied (for counselor), and it was an amazing experience. I had a co-chair who poured a lot of spiritual wisdom into me and I found my friends. The friends that I live with right now I found in Ignite.”
Dunegan said he hopes this year’s staff has an even greater experience than he had as a counselor.
“I want each one of you to experience such fire for God that you have never felt before and continue to develop it throughout the semester,” he said. “These people — your friends — can point you toward God above everything else. Because if that’s not what we are here for, what is? It’s for God, above all else.”