This is what the LORD says:
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
but let those who boast boast about this:
that they understand and know me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the LORD.
After four intense days of campamento, I was riding home in Susan & Sarita’s car, asking myself–did campamento really happen? Everything had happened so quickly, it seemed like a blurred dream. That night I went home and straight to bed. I spent the next 48 hours sleeping, resting, reading…so much happened during camp that I couldn’t even begin to process the stories I had heard.
Thursday afternoon, the masses began to arrive, lugging their suitcases and filled with excitement and questions about camp. Within a few hours, we had registered more than 70 children ages 8-12 (about 30 girls and 40 boys), and color-coordinated them into 14 cabins with 14 counselors. Thursday night’s schedule included ice breaker games and silly songs, dinner, a teamwork art project, capture the flag. The kids learned that we were to take a journey through space and heard the story of Juan, young space cadet-in-training who could never do anything right…
Friday was an intense day, after little or no sleep for kids and leaders alike. (Meetings until 1 am and another meeting at 4 am!) After games, devotional, and breakfast, we loaded up two buses with children, suitcases, food, materials, sports equipment, etc. and sang our way up the mountain to Camp Roblealto. Upon arrival, we promptly set out for a hike…over the river and through the woods, to the Stevens house we went…up up up the mountain even higher! The clear blue skies and the beautiful landscape left us stunned, and we all cheered as we reached Finca Brookhaven and could see the entire valley spread out below us. Restored by a fruit snack and a 20 minute rest, the kids were quickly organized into games and songs and a team challenge, followed by a Bible study (focused on violence) in their small groups. Thanks to Ciro’s shortcut, the descending hike took a mere 22 minutes, while our ascent had taken almost an hour and a half! The last obstacle was crossing an icy, rock filled river in our bare feet! Friday’s afternoon was filled with more games, time in the pool, lunch, another Bible study (dealing with violence/forgiveness). In the evening, the kids were sent on a treasure hunt–many groups were close but none found the treasure chest filled with chocolates and marshmellows! (We had compassion upon them and divided up the treats anyway) The night ended on a cliffhanger, when fictional space cadet Juan and his eager young sister Fernanda were overtaken by enemy aliens! A group of tired but happy campers and leaders headed off to their cabins to sleep…
Saturday at 5:30 am, the leaders met to pray together and share reactions from the previous day, and our support team directed recreational time for the kids. The games and activities were planned to complement the theme of sexuality, and many times we had our hands full trying to keep 70 boys and girls interact appropriately. Even the creative fashion show produced many opportunities to speak to the children about correct behavior/dress as men and women. The children participated in two more Bible studies, and teamed up to brainstorm songs and dramas for the Talent Night. Later that night we led the kids on a blindfolded “lunar walk” around camp, a lesson in teamwork and trust as they followed our voices, back into the dining hall. All was silent until the blindfolds came off—then the kids stared in wonder all around them as they realized that the Burton had been transformed into the “space academy” with aliens, astronauts and glow in the dark stars!! The leaders had begun banging pots and pans and shouting victory! The kids soon joined in and we all jumped around the room celebrating!! It was loud and chaotic and an amazing moment that I won’t forget. That night, we informed the kids they were no longer space cadets. The room was thick with disappointment…until we told them they had passed all the tests and were now SPACE GUARDIANS!
In a very special graduation ceremony, each child received a (chocolate) medal to show their achievement, and they sat enraptured as we read how Juan and Fernanda triumphed over the impossible when they fought with all their heart. Just before sending the kids off to bed, we asked them to all close their eyes again, and imagine themselves out in the universe, among all the stars…meanwhile, leaders were walking around the room flinging flourescent liquid (we sliced open glow in the dark bracelets) on the kids/walls/floors. Even though I had my own eyes open, I was as captivated as the kids! It was a magical moment, and we really did feel like we were touching the stars…
Sunday we were constantly on the go–worship time to start the day (the leaders again in meetings), a rally on the soccer field, silly songs, Bible study (guarding your heart and living for Christ), playing in the pool, and group photos. We then brought all the kids together en la Sala de Amistad (the Friendship Hall), and the kids were finally able to open their “friendship envelopes,” which had been filled throughout the weekend with little notes of love and encouragement. Finally, we reminded them that in Jesus they have a Friend even greater than their cabin counselors and peers, a Friend who never ceases to listen to their fears and triumphs.
One of my favorite hymns has the following verse: “I will not boast in anything, no gifts, no power, no wisdom; but I will boast in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection.” It is Christ, Son of the Most High God who made everything possible for this year’s camp. All praise to our Creator God for his love and protection over 120 people during 4 days of camp. All honor and glory unto the Only One who can bring beauty out of ashes.
Thank you so much for all your prayers during this time. Please continue to pray for the children of Carpio–many are living in shockingly abusive situations and some children are showing signs that they will become abusers.
San Jose, Costa Rica