Naomi's week on camp
Thursday 27th August 2015
Earlier this summer I spent a week sleeping in a tent, surrounded by children aged 9-12 and getting up in time for a team meeting at 7am. Why on earth did I do such a crazy thing? Because I was at Lindfield, a Christian holiday run through CPAS Ventures (www.ventures.org.uk)
. I was returning to the camp that I went to and really enjoyed when I was younger, which added a fair amount of pressure!
There are lots of adjectives to describe camp: exhausting (mentally and spiritually, as well as physically), busy, and importantly fun. But the overall purpose is to speak and also live the gospel during the week, in order to help the children come to their own understanding of God's love. We only have one week; most (though not all) of the children come from Christian homes and go to church. But in that week, we can show them that there are actually a lot of other younger Christians; we can (hopefully) plant the thought that their faith must be personal, and we can have a coherent theme through the week, safe in the knowledge that they won't manage to miss one key session.
The days were pretty full: after the team meeting and breakfast there is 'tent time'. This is one of the two main teaching sessions each day: this one is lead by the two tent leaders for their tent (around 6 children, this year spread across the age range). We open up the Bible together and see what we discover. The spiritual programme this year was rescue: we started the week with God's rescue of the Israelites from Egypt, and then moved to his rescue of us from sin. We also pray, and do some fun activities, and try to learn the day's memory verse.
For the rest of the morning the children choose one of a few group activities (including sports, crafts, baking, drama, music, a muddy walk and rocket making across the week), and in the afternoon there is usually a whole camp competition such as shelter building in the woods or a photo story. The exception was Wednesday when we went to Chessington after tent time, and came back in time for dinner. This was also fun, and more so as everyone managed not to get lost!
After dinner there is “where it's @” the main evening meeting: with songs and teaching and a silly activity and a prayerful activity, generally. After a bit more fun together over hot chocolate some happy children and their exhausted leaders head for bed!
Because of the age of the children that come, we recognise that it may not be the year that they commit their lives to Christ (but we pray that what we say and do might be on their hearts as they get to a point where they can) so positve signs are harder to spot. But there was lots of encouragement to take away: one girl in my tent decided to ask her parents for her own Bible (and wrote home to say so!); the surprising attentiveness during the tent time session on the cross, pushing home that Jesus took what we deserved; and lots of difficult questions to try and answer: 9 year olds and 19 year olds are worlds apart in many ways, but they have lots of the same questions about God!
If anyone is thinking of going to camp, wondering if their children might like it, or thinks they might be able to be a leader: I can thoroughly recommend it from both sides, it's not an experience I've regretted yet!