- (Photo: CBS / Nicole Scrivener)
The makers of the disputed "Jesus Camp" are back this time with a special documentary on teen missions that will air this weekend on CBS.
"The Lords Boot Camp" is a collaboration between CBS News and Loki Films, the production company behind the Oscar-nominated documentary on the charismatic summer camp for children at Devil's Lake, N.D.
CBS' newsmagazine '48 Hours' will air the one-hour special this Saturday at 8 p.m. EST/PST.
Filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, co-founders of Loki films, helped produce "The Lord's Boot Camp," which looks at 700 teens training to become Christian missionaries in the United States or Africa at the Teen Missions Intl. headquarters in Merritt Island, Fla.
The presentation tells the story of the physical and mental challenges teens face during the intensive two-week training camp through the eyes of three teenagers.
Tabitha Taylor, 13, of Bellwood, Pa., is a camp standout. Nicole Scrivener, 15, of Tallahassee, Fla. struggles with drug and alcohol abuse and a rebellious attitude. Valerie Smith, 15, of Las Vegas, Nev., has a hard time being away from her boyfriend.
"We're the ambulance of people's souls," said Tabitha in a preview video on CBS News. "And we can't sit around waiting for people to get a heart attack. We need to get in there and save them before it happens."
Following the camp, one camera crew also documented Nicole's missionary trip to Zambia where her team helped construct a staff house for missionaries, met with AIDS orphans and distributed shoes to orphans.
Ewing, co-founder of Loki Films, said each of the three girls "represents a different reaction that religious belief can provoke in a young person: bold confidence, angry rebellion and feelings of doubt," according to CBS News.
"All three characters struggled with the physical and mental demands of the camp as well as the looming question of what role their belief in God will play in their lives as they enter adulthood," Grady, also co-founder of Loki Films, added in the report.
Both filmmakers of the New York-based production company said they try to portray their subjects objectively and without agenda, according to past reports.
Critics, however, say that the "Jesus Camp" documentary purposely presented a negative portrayal of Christians.
"The directors' claims that they were simply trying to create an 'objective' film about children and faith ring hollow, Ron Reno, Focus on the Family's assistant to the chairman, told Plugged In Online.
Unfortunately, however, it appears that [the young people pictured] were unknowingly being manipulated by the directors in their effort to cast evangelical Christianity in an unflattering light."
After the release of "Jesus Camp" in 2006, the camp site of the film was vandalized and faced $1,500 in damages. Owners of the property subsequently decided to ban Kids on Fire School of Ministry from using the premises for future camps.
Teen Missions Intl. said it will be praying that the special "will be a positive documentary that will honor the Lord and will encourage others to be involved in missions," according to its website.
The group claims to have established 200 missions projects in over 110 countries since 1971 and says it is a pioneer of the concept of providing short-term missions experience for teens.