10 Feb Campamento La Cruz
That’s the name of our annual Bible Camp. Every year for the past 9 years we have dedicated the first weeks of January to Bible Camp for children. Ty Ford, director of Camp Deer Run in East Texas played a significant role in helping us get camp off the ground and for establishing a balanced environment of fun and learning about God. As the years have passed, the spirit of camp has infected many of our young people who are now serving as camp leaders. One of the tenants of Camp Deer Run that we have adopted is that the camp leaders are young adults. Why? First, it’s a necessary requirement to keep up with the children. Second, the children look up to those closest in age as role models. They can see themselves becoming like the role models who are serving them. This has been an amazing thing to witness, and the fruit has been abundant. We always offer our camp slots to the local church first and then we invite the children who are participants in our DESEO program. In the beginning, it was really challenging to find parents who were willing to allow their children (most of whom have never spent a night away from home) to leave home and spend a week with us. And we still must face that with new families. In fact, this year one mother said it like this: “Camp? I’ve only heard about camp in the movies.” Generally, when a group of children from a specific community return from camp and start talking about it, the other children and their parents begin to have more confidence in the safety of camp. This year we hosted a total of 166 children ages 8 to 18 years of age. Each week we hosted a specific age group starting with ages 8 to 11 years of age; 12 to 14 years of age; and 15 to 18 years of age. We are happy to report that we had only a few minor injuries and even fewer sick ones. The best news is that we had a total of 13 baptisms in the second and third week. Our theme this year was GPS, and the theme verse was John 14:6, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
The Sunday following the third week of camp, our local congregation has a camp celebration time after worship. We usually have one of the groups share a skit they developed while at camp, we have some children talk about what they like the most, and we share a video highlighting the various activities of the week. We invite the children and their parents and this year we had 305 people in attendance, 108 of them children. Since they come to our worship, it was fitting that the theme for the sermon was the same as camp. It was a powerful opportunity to share the good news that Jesus is the way to the Father. We had cake at the end and had the opportunity to meet, greet and welcome our many visitors. We pray their lives will continue to be impacted by camp for years to come.
I must mention how proud we are of our leadership team. The director of camp is Carlos Umaña, a young man who has been working with Mission UpReach in various roles for 8 years. Carlos started out on our DESEO team and is now a member of our church planter’s team. His role as camp director is not minor as it requires planning that begins for the next year as soon as they return from camp. Our DESEO team works at camp as cabin leaders and assistants as well as several volunteers who serve in various roles, including the kitchen staff. Most children who have had the privilege of experiencing camp long to have a position in the future as camp staff. The staff spend 3 weeks at the very rustic camp we rent with a day of recovery between camp weeks. This day is generally spent washing some very dirty clothes and making plans for the following week. Each one of them considers it an honor and privilege to be a part of our camp staff.