We arrived on Sunday, July 12th to set up camp.
On Monday we attended our morning meeting where we heard announcements, prayed for the meal, had breakfast, then prayed with our team and organized ourselves while we waited for the inner city children to get bused in from the Worcester area. The first order of business each day when they arrived was breakfast for the children, attendance, and seeing who remembered their bible verses. The campers names went in a box for a drawing each day they remembered their verses, for prizes on the last day. The first day each team (decided by age) and assigned a color was required to come up with a team name, a cheer, and designed their own T-Shirts which the campers enjoyed.
We had a structured schedule we followed each day. After breakfast there were pledges the children participated in holding flags and lyric cards for the pledge of allegiance, pledge to the Christian flag, pledge to the bible, pledge to the lamb song. After everyone arrived and the morning routine was behind us, we moved onto tabernacle time which was a nice quiet sitting time, in which we listened to a bible story out of a beautiful illustrated book, there were no words as the storyteller told the story themselves, although there were guidelines for them to follow and practice ahead of time. The bible story of the week was Esther. Mrs. Smith told the story for about 20-25 minutes each day, just getting to a cliff hanger, then telling the children that if they wanted to know what happened next they would have to come tomorrow. A common lesson all week was "God is in Control".
We also heard a short missionary story each day in which a missionary would overcome the greatest of odds from "Frogman John" each day in which the children would proclaim at the end, "that's a miracle!"
There were songs sung such as 'Let the Lord have His way' and a song about Queen Esther, which complimented the bible story.
There were plenty of games each day for the children to play. They were full of excitement, challenges and just plain fun.
Next was craft time, making crosses with black trim, and pebbles inside which they were to remember with each stone all the ways Jesus has helped them as well as all the ways He will help them. These were worked on each day, one stage at a time, at the end of the week the children were able to take them home along with their own decorated T-shirts and other goodies they had been given.
Lunch time was always very welcome, as we all had built up our appetites with all the activity going on, and free time playing outside was had by all afterward for a short time. There were many things to play with such as a long tire swing, hula hoops, bouncing balls, frisbees, a parachute etc,... This was a time a lot of counselors took the opportunity of "interviewing" children one on one in their team to see where they were at spiritually. The wordless book and bracelet was performed countless times for children at camp, and many prayed to receive Jesus.
I really LOVE CEF because the gospel, and I mean the whole gospel is spelled out at least 5 times a day each and every day at different opportunities such as after bible story time, and later in the tabernacle games where bible triva type games and bible memory verse games were played. There was every opportunity for the children to get a real grasp and understand over the course of the week. We never knew how many children were coming, the numbers varied daily, and we had a great turnout!
Also I was so thrilled with the teens at camp. Many of these teens are so confident, skilled and natural at sharing the gospel, I was really impressed. I learned that many of them not only grew up in these type camps, but were trained by CYIA (Christian Youth In Action) which is a really intensive week long training with practicums at the end. What an advantage these young people have, so strong at such an early age. I was happy to hear that two of our youth expressed interest in CYIA!!
After this time, we sometimes had a group activity such as nature hikes, crafting beaded frogs, frog puppets and the like. Our theme all week was FROG (fully rely on God) so it was frog everything over there! Then it was back to the tabernacle for prayer requests of the children which were prayed for, then Mrs. Peters missionary story "Mustaffa's Secret". The book was very much like the bible story, and was about a muslim boy who came to faith through a Christian missionary. It was another amazing time, these story-tellers are SO good at what they do, I was hanging on their every word as well as the children!
Quiet seat prizes were given out randomly which was a real incentive to the children and was quite efficient at keeping order. There was a point system as well which went by teams which enforced order just as well. One never knew when they might be caught being good! These points were vital, as one of the teams would be declared winner on the last day. =)
After dismissal to the bus, the staff had a meeing and cleaning duty. Supper was served at 5:30 pm, and free time was had by all afterward. On Tues and Thurs we had STP time: Song, Testimony, and Prayer.
Wednesday was a treat for the campers, as we took them to a nearby lake for lunch and swimming. It was a lot to keep track of, but everyone was safe, we had a good system in place where each counselor was assigned one or two campers to stay with AT ALL times. We were told this was an important day because a lot of these children don't get to experience playing at the water as they did this day.
I believe we all took something away from the experience in the giving of ourselves, putting others first and praying for the needs of others. Bonds were made with other counselors/staff as well as with the campers. I know these campers really claimed a space in our teens hearts. I'm thankful for the opportunity which our youth need to experience the giving of themselves in this way, and helping to satisfy the needs of others, while leading them to Christ.
I have over 300 photos so I will select a few to share on here as soon as I have some time to do so. This week I have been assisting teaching/photographer VBS at our church, so that is another post for another time, probablly next week when I have less to do. =)