Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Young Adults Camp 2010

Hi, sorry for not updating the blog for so long. I have been at camps or ‘Campamentos de Verano 2010’ ‘Summer Camps 2010’, and because of one thing and another I never got round to posting anything. The most I was able to do was half write a post, that never got finished, which became the basis for this current post. I will write a separate post about each camp which will hopefully make it easier to tell you what all went on.

The first camp was the 18+ camp, essentially a young adult’s camp, which went well. There was a good attendance with about 50+ campers, 9 camp counsellors, 6 Misión Rescate team members, 4 worship leaders, 2 speakers and 1 photographer/camp nurse... (no partridges or pear trees, but there were 2 ‘guard geese’ on site but that’s another story; would have been more use in a pot but never mind).
Two main changes to previous camps was firstly having two separate camps for the 12-17 age groups and then the 18+ age group which in the past all attended the same camp. Although there was some questions and trepidation about this change most believe it turned out to be a positive and beneficial change as I will evidence below. What is more, baring that in mind previous camps were joined, that made a 50+ turn out very good. It was also very manageable which is great.

The other change was to have a team of counsellors separate to the Misión Recate team, who last year formed the crux of the counsellor team. This meant that the team of 9 counsellors was able to focus on dealing with the campers most directly, participating with their teams in the various activities etc.
Misión Recate was primarily in charge of organising and running the activities and discipline, which included all sorts of interesting and embarrassing tasks for those arriving late at meetings, chiefly the ‘Baile de la Tasa’ or the ‘dance of the cup’ (pictured above). This organisation has ensured a more efficient running of things in many ways.

We had two speakers at this camp which happen to be the two speakers who attended the two camps last year separately: Pastor Rino Bareta and Santiago Quispe. They have an interest in drama and presented a few sketches and other group activities with the campers. Rino is also an excellent speaker and preached on the life of Joseph. The theme for all three camps was ‘Decisions’ and the passages and messages he shared on this theme were very appropriate and relevant for these young adults.
In their spare time they seemed to enjoy helping out at the camp shop ‘selling’ the available merchandise in a very animated fashion (at least in Santiago's case, Rino not so much).
During the camp we had days to the beach, games, sport, quizzes, obstacles courses etc. Misión Rescate also set tasks for the teams. I don’t have time to write about them all, but one challenge included the presentation of various objects like the ugliest thing, the smelliest thing, etc.
The teams took these challenges really seriously and have put tremendous effort into them. The speakers and I were asked to judge this challenge and the items presented included a dead pelican, moths and a dead bird gutted with all entrails on display.
For example the finalists for the ‘smelliest thing’ were dead Sea Lion guts (pictured below to the left accompanied by a dead rotting crab) and sewage in a bottle; the team declined to say where they had obtained it and I didn’t push them on it.
Suffice to say Rino had to go and spray aftershave on his nose to cover the sickening aroma it left him with. All in all I think the inclusion of the counsellors has made the teams very competitive.

Feedback during, and since the camps, has been very positive. I overheard a girl talking to her friend on the phone, while I was driving her up to the health centre in Ite, trying to convince the friend to come to camp, all be it late, and as a result four of her friends arrived for the last two days. She commented that Misión Rescate had given them so many tasks to do, and where keeping them so busy, that they hadn’t time to take a break.

As a funny/slightly embarrassing aside the same girl when we were at the health centre was explaining to the doctor about the redness and problem she was having with her eyes, mild conjunctivitis. She proceeded to inform the doctor that she reckoned she had got the eye infected because they had got into a pool of stagnant water (the infamous typhoid tank from last year’s camps- see blog posts for last January) in order to fulfil a challenge. At this point the doctor and nurse looked at me with expressions as much to say what planet are you from putting young people up to this kind of nonsense! In truth the challenge wasn’t to get into the pool, but to take a photo of their team creatively fulfilling the term ‘wet’. They decided on this interpretation. What’s more I had nothing to do with it.

Well I could go on talking about the camp but think I should bring this post to a close with one story which probably was the highlight for me. There was a couple who attended from the Luz de Vida church, the church I have been assisting with the youth group, in Tacna. On the final evening we had the customary bonfire at which the campers and leaders were invited to share anything on their hearts. Firstly the young man got up and shared how the camp had impacted on him, how he very nearly didn’t come, and how glad he was that he did. The young lady then got up and although she hadn’t previously planned to share, ended up very frankly and openly sharing about the difficulties they had faced over the last years as a couple. She spoke about how she ended up pregnant at 16 to the young man, how the pastor and church shunned her, the difficulties they faced as the baby was born very prematurely at 5 months 1 week weighing 920 grams, how they were told the baby would never survive. Yet she gave testimony to how God undertook, and even though many other babies in the neonatal unit died, facing lesser odds, God brought their baby through and is now a healthy 5 year old boy. In fact their child celebrated its birthday on the Thursday of the camp and they had come to camp with every intention to return home on the Wednesday but having been benefited so much took the decision to stay on and make the sacrifice so as to fully benefit from the camp.
She then told of how she had, in order to be able to return to the church, stand up and publically apologise to the members about her pregnancy and how they had slowly been involving themselves more and more into the church. They are now both baptised and are soon to be married.

One of the sketches the speakers had presented on a previous evening was about a girl who was tempted to go out with an unsaved boy. Then how having chosen to go out ended up pregnant and faced the choice of whether or not to abort. This young lady spoke about how the themes raised in the sketch had identified with many of the choices she had personally had to take. The way in which she was able to give personal testimony spoke powerfully to those present.
Of all the many reasons why it was good to separate the two age groups this was probably in my opinion the most important. Many of the leaders mentioned afterwards that they didn’t think there would have been the freedom to speak as candidly about this and other issues if there had been 12 year olds present. Whilst undoubtedly the topics are still relevant to the younger age group, they need to be treated and shared in a distinctive way.

There are so many other things I could write about but this will have to do for now.
God Bless,

(I have not mentioned the names or included pictures of the couple I have spoken about for reasons of confidentiality, but I did get their permission to write about their testimony).

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