Our hands have stretched all around the world over the last 20 years, but for the last several years, there has been an increasing burden and vision to engage people in caring directly for orphans and at-risk kids that live around us. In the summer of 2019 that vision was realized.
Within just a few months we saw a community rally around this need. Churches, businesses, and families stepped up to help. Over 30 full-time volunteers committed to the week and to extensive training and preparation. About twice as many daytime volunteers joined us. We were able to connect directly with those who serve these kids on a daily basis and see first hand the load that they carry. All who participated, from adults to kids, were able to witness the presence and love of God manifested in powerful ways.
Highlights from a camp director who will never forget this life changing experience:
I will never forget the squeals, the laughter, and the wonder of all these kids on a most beautiful and magical boating day that was also a first-time experience for almost all of them. I will never forget the pride, the excitement, the unique smiles, the bold dance moves, and even the handstands and flips of each individual kid as they traveled through the human arch of cheering, loving staff members, toward their Big Birthday Celebration. I will never forget the sight of the 13-year-old prayer team member praying over the adult counselors the night before the kids arrived. I won’t forget all the candy, the gifts, the countless notes of encouragement, the memory books full of photos (from a professional volunteer photographer), and the monogrammed suitcases lavished on every child. I will never lose the vision of a group of young girls traversing the campus throughout the week behind their leader while pulling a supply wagon as they enthusiastically quoted bible verses. I will never forget the night we were singing the song, “Good, Good Father,” in worship when the kids took over the song during an instrumental break and filled the room with their pure voices leaving the band behind. I will never forget the sights and sound of the entire worship band crying during that moment. I will never forget the “Spider-Man Cleaning Crew” established by a couple of 10-year-old boys who showed up from some really hard places, but who were creatively and generously cleaning up after others as a way to serve and show gratitude. I will never forget watching groups of kids joyfully pop up all over campus at random times to quote passages together like the 23rd Psalms, the Beatitudes, and the Ten Commandments while standing side by side. I will never forget watching them play a game where they could each win candy and seeing those who won immediately sharing with those who did not. I will never forget them spontaneously cheering each other on as they faced fears all week with vigorous clapping and the loud words, “YOU GOT THIS!”
I will never forget the life words that each Big Camper spoke over every single kid at the closing ceremony: words like generous, compassionate, humble, creative, innovative, joyful, perseverance, tenacious, bravery, and more.I will never forget the moment when the smallest, fiercest, little girl at camp fell into my arms crying while we were speaking the word “brave” over her.
I will never forget the report from her Big Camper earlier in the week when they were talking about God’s great love for her and when that same mighty little girl dramatically stuck out her hand in one of those “light switch moments” and said, “Wait a minute!…….Is this a Jesus Camp?”I think it is safe to say, “It absolutely was!”