Thanks so much everyone, who prayed for our Camp OUTT venture. It was such a blessing and a blast. The days seemed long and packed, like they did when you were a kid in summertime -- in fact, there were several nights when I left Camp OUTT at about 10pm, looking at the moon, and being amazed that I had been there so long that day! (our camp day did not last until nighttime, it was another child-care ministry we had during the 2nd week of camp that caused us to stay so late). Note: this first picture here of the staff is sans Josh because he had already left to come back to L-ville to work. He was there the whole 2 weeks, otherwise, and I cannot fully express my appreciation for a husband who loves children and knows how to have fun with them for hours and hours on end!
It was hard, initially, to come out of the VBS mindset where you only have 2 hours, so convey truth, truth, truth as much as possible in a concentrated amount of time. I slipped back on the glove of Camp OUTT, though, where you target individual kids with specific teaching throughout the day as you enjoy quite a lot of fun with them, showing them Christ. And then we be strong in our teaching time (which Josh did and it was great! We used "Who will be King?" which is such a great resource and FREE 8 lessons online!). When you have a child for 8 hours, you partly show them that you mean what you say in your lesson time by talking to them, getting to know their lives, playing with them (how recently have you gone down a slip 'n' slide? um . . . they're sort of painful!), just enjoying them, and being ready to speak truth. We had 2 days of thunderstorms, and several of the children were very frightened (it was sort of major), but it was such a great opportunity to explain that God controls the weather; it is no accident. And we show them how a Christ follower responds to having their plans changed, even by the weather.
I am so glad that the Lord gave us "Who will be King" because I think we have tons of kids who have only ever learned "be saved, ask Jesus in your heart" kind of the gospel, and not really anything about the Lordship of Christ. So I have a vision now, of showing all the "Jesus is in my heart" kids what true salvation is (please understand what I am saying here -- I wish to clarify in children's minds that salvation is not a trite wish in which you get a genie to come live with you!).
I had one girl this week, who is the Camp OUTT veteran, Tierra. As far as I know, she does not go to church, but comes to Camp OUTT every year, and it is AMAZING to see her growth in Christ (she was converted the first summer), even without Christian teaching. She remembers almost everything she learned from years past, and it is amazingly gratifying to see that the Lord used our work, and is upholding what He has done. It was so good to see her, and have deep conversations with her. She truly has wisdom about hard things in God's word, I was just so thankful to see it.
Here are some highlights:
~Food fight! This is a Mandy original! A planned food fight in which the staff and the kids all attack each other with cheap food made just for this purpose. It was a sort of Friday surprise for everyone the first week. Also -- optional. Only 2 kids sat out though, hmmmm . . .
~Kick the Can takes over as the new favorite game. For one thing, it's easy to play no matter how many people you have around to play it. For another, littler kids can get the idea and play along because there aren't too many rules. We did play a round of Capture the flag, though, which will always hold a high place on my list of fav Camp OUTT games.
~Making our teams Native American tribes, to go along with our western theme. My team was the Mohawk tribe, which all the kids got into really fast. Josh was going to try to grow a Mohawk in the 2 weeks, but that was a little harder than we thought. I just loved my tribe in small group time. They all did a fantastic job thinking about and discussing the scripture we memorized and pondering hard questions I posed for them such as "what thing in your life do you think you might sometimes love more than God" (after a lesson about the rich young ruler). This was probably my favorite time of day.
~Watching children who usually are babysat by television or computer games fall in love with simple pleasures like climbing trees, jumping rope, playing in the huge sand/mud pit with hoses and shovels, digging rivers and lakes.
~Reading time. After lunch we read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader which is maybe my favorite Narnia book. Two specific parts were just ideal for discussion about Christ -- the part where Eustace becomes "undragoned" and the end where the children see Aslan as the Lamb, and he tells them they must learn to love him in their world under a different name. Aslan says "This was the very reason why you were brought into Narnia, that by knowing me here a little, you may know me better there." That is the reason I like to read these books to the children! Of course they love Aslan, and then I tell them that they love Aslan because he is Jesus!