Now that we’re home from camp, we wanted to update you on how it went. Here’s a snapshot of why we love our week with students at Camp Allendale!
Camp was full of fun. When our students ask about camp, we tell them “it’s a ton of fun!” and it always is. Thanks to Camp Allendale, we got to do outdoor challenge activities each day – a zip line, a climbing wall, a giant swing, canoeing, a low ropes course, and swimming in the lake and the pool.
Around our own campsite, we started our mornings with exciting wake ups and dance parties (our students pull a solid whip and nae nae – watch the video here), and played rousing games of tetherball, SPUD, capture the flag, and more. We did flips off of diving boards. We toasted marshmallows around our campfire, we painted t-shirts and made friends, and we laughed like crazy.
Camp was an adventure. Camp is tons of fun, but part of the fun
is being adaptable. There was a lot of rain during the first few days of camp, but we made do. During one stormy night, we had our campfire worship on the carpet around an electric lantern in the Allendale dining hall. In an afternoon rain, we huddled under a shelter and sang songs and played games until it passed. We learned to put up with the mud and the wet shoes, and for the most part our students had fantastic attitudes.
In addition, a few of our students had to deal with injuries at camp (Allendale nurses, we LOVE you) and a few others had to work through their fears of heights, of water, or of spiders in order to enjoy the week. Thankfully, all of our students stuck it out, and we were able to work through these challenges and enjoy the time together.
We saw God work. Although the fun and the adventures are part of the experience, the reason we go to camp is to see God work in students’ lives. This week, we were able to watch that happen.
Each morning, we did devotions, both individually and in groups, and we watched our students pray for each other, ask hard questions, and consider who God is and what it means to follow Him. Most of our students rarely open a Bible, and it was exciting to see them thinking about these things more deeply than they have before.
We also had a time of worship each evening. For many of our students who haven’t grown up in church, this habit takes some getting used to. At first, it’s always a little uncomfortable. But by the end of this week, as we talked and sang about God’s faithfulness or about how He pursues us even when we’re hiding, it was encouraging to see how many of our students were participating in praising our God together.
Camp Allendale has a missionary who came each day and shared about their work with our students. We were told about the orphaned and homeless in Romania, about those who don’t know what it’s like to have someone love them – an experience not so different from some of our students’. It was powerful to watch them listen. Our students responded by sacrificing their snack allotment so its money value goes to the missionary. We were awestruck by their generosity to help people they don’t even know.
The most powerful time of the week came on the last night of camp, when we had a friend come out and share his testimony with our students. He told about growing up on the same streets where our students live and getting involved with drugs and crime – but that wasn’t the part he focused on. Mostly he shared about meeting Jesus, and about God’s extravagant grace and transforming power. When he finished, we gave our students the chance to pray and acknowledge what Jesus has done for them, and to commit or recommit to follow Him. When we asked them afterward, 20 of our students said they prayed then (5 of them to accept Christ for the first time!), and 6 asked for someone to follow up and encourage them.