Eric Mennel was fielding complaints the day he learned his video was a winner in the 2009 ELCA video contest.
It was move-in day at Florida State University. Eric, a senior at the college, was working behind the complaint desk at one of the school’s student-occupied apartment complexes.
He tried to keep an eye on the webcast of the announcement while also still giving his full attention to parents and students. So it took a moment for the news to sink in.
Eric’s video, titled “Unconventional” had taken first prize in the individual category.
For a few moments, Eric handed out high-fives around his office and received a congratulatory text from his father. Then it was back to business.
He videotaped throughout that week, finding the voice of the story (“This is the best day of my life”) when a camp’s staff member shared a breakthrough with one of the campers.
The week after the campers left — the week when the video was due — Eric came down with the H1N1 flu. After two days in bed, he tackled the video, including writing the script, editing and providing the voice-over.
He already had a passion for the camp; Luther Springs has been part of Eric’s life for almost half his life — first as a camper, then later as a camp counselor.
His favorite week at camp is Lutheran Services Florida week. “The first year was hard on the staff because the kids are open and blunt about their personal lives,” Eric says. “The second year (this past year), we were consciously optimistic that we would have a group of kids we could impact.”
The camaraderie created during that week supersedes any inconveniences, including rain. “The kids are so excited to be in a room with other kids,” Eric says.
The spirit of the campers, the stars of the video, now travels with the camp director to congregations to promote Luther Springs.
At the encouragement of his fellow counselors, Eric will put the award money from the ELCA toward living expenses for an internship this fall in New York City.
“The other counselors insisted I use the money for living expenses,” Eric says. “They want me to use it to get through the next step in my journey.”
We’ll be watching!
Don’t miss your opportunity to participate in the 2011 ELCA Video Contest. Enter your video soon.