It’s our first third-fifth grade camp! We are thrilled to spend this week with your children. We have been praying for the salvation of these campers and the Holy Spirit’s presence to fill this place. This camp marks the halfway point of overnight camps for the summer. I have seen God work in mighty ways in such a short amount of time. The seats your children are sitting in have been prayed over multiple times. I do not think I have been in a place where the Lord’s presence is so palpable. After campers arrived and settled in their new homes for the week, the cabins created their republic’s identity for the week. They then presented their names and chants to the entire camp. We had some very creative names this week, ranging from “Just 4 Jesus Girls” to “Popcorn” to “Flaming Waffles.” We went over rules and Barefoot chants and taught the campers a new camp dance! The students previewed their specialties and took their swim test. We gathered for a delicious meal of chicken breast, rice, and green beans. If you’ve never had the pleasure of eating our Head Chef’s cooking, you are missing out. It is, by far, the most delicious camp food I have ever eaten. We then gathered for evening worship. Our worship pastor, Thomas Rose, encourages worship with high-energy songs. The campers got to jump around and clap while praising the Lord. Will, a republic leader, shared his testimony with the students. He told of his struggles with a move from Chicago to Nashville in 5th grade. He struggled with change and people’s perceptions. But God gave him the ability to overcome his fears. He pointed to God’s work in his heart. Will is forever strengthened by that move; and now he is able to use that strength for God’s glory. Tonight, our pastor for the week, Kathleen, spoke about labels. Throughout life, we will all be called different things. The world defines us by our talents, personalities, and appearances. Theo, our male program director, shared the labels he was given by the world. He stated things such as “tall,” “athletic,” “funny,” “girly,” “loud.” She placed sticky notes all over him with these labels. Then she removed all the labels, and placed only one on his chest: Loved. We are only defined by God. And we are God’s children regardless of our worldly depiction. The first night of camp, the campers are given paper lanterns. They write prayers and things they would like to give to God. We gather on our lawn, light the lanterns, and watch as they float away. Finally, we end the night with messy games. The students get to throw Cheetos on their counselor’s face and form an afro with shaving cream. Please pray for this week as we continue to walk with your children. God is already moving and speaking to these students in powerful ways.
We finished our first full day of camp! We started off the day with morning worship and our AM specialties. Then, we were off to team building. Half of the republics tested their team work at low ropes. Some groups climbed through “spider webs.” Others successfully passed through “mine fields.” The other republics gathered for a new addition to Barefoot this year: Nature Drop. Republics used natural material from all across camp to build protective fortresses for 3 eggs. The eggs are then dropped off of the blob tower in hopes that they survive. God’s Loving Girls, a girl’s republics, saved all three eggs to earn 75 points towards Purple Cup. Purple Cup is another new addition to Barefoot. In previous years, a girl’s republic and a guy’s republic was crowned the winner at the end of the week. Now, it is every republic for themselves. At the end of the summer, a gender will be crowned the winner of Purple Cup, which will then be engraved on the back of the actual Purple Cup. After PM specialties, we were able to spend free time in a variety of places. Campers canoed on the lake, took out their opponents at paintball, blobbed into the rec lake, and rode horses across the pasture. Then, the rain rolled in. We gathered in the bottom floor of the D.C. for a game called chariots. When we came back outside, a rainbow welcomed us. At last, we were able to go to evening worship. We praised the Lord to some new and old songs. Then, Kathleen took the stage. She delivered a powerful message about our hearts. Although, we may appear a certain way to the world, God can see into our hearts. He sees the depths of our heart and still loves us. His blood covers all of our sin. She asked the campers to consider where their heart is. Is their heart rooted in Christ? The campers divided into their republics to discuss how God was moving within them. Counselors heard the hearts of these campers. We can already see God’s hand on these students. We ended the night with snow cones and dancing at the block party. After cha chaing, wobbling, and stanky legging, we snuggled in our beds prepared for all the fun tomorrow will bring.
Camper + Staff Interviews
Why did you come back?
“Last year was fun! I got to learn how to ride a horse. I wanted to come back so I could do the blob. Last year, I didn’t get to go on the blob and I was really sad.”
What are you looking forward to?
“Taking my swim test so I can swim in the lake. I didn’t get to take it tomorrow.”
What is your favorite thing about Barefoot?
“I like when we get to talk about God, sing songs, and wobble.”
What have you learned in the bible stories?
“I learned that religious leaders were questioning Jesus. They didn’t believe Him. They didn’t know He was our Savior.”
Why do you think diversity is important at camp?
” Yes! In Nashville, I hear people talking about how some people, who are different than them, are not nice. But I like those different people. I think they are nice. I just think that the people who say that have never been able to sit down and talk to those different people.”
How did you hear about Barefoot?
“My sisters went here. They said there was a blob and a zipline and lots of other fun things. They also told me that the counselors were really good.
What are you most looking forward to?
How do you like your counselors?
“I love them! They are nice and fun.”
What is your favorite thing so far?
What do you think about Barefoot?
“I think it is a place where you can come to learn about Jesus, make friends, and have fun. I feel like I am apart of a family here.”
Why did you come back to Barefoot?
“The relationships I have built over the pst year have really blossomed. I have gotten really close to the people I worked with last year. When I heard they were coming back, I knew that this was the best way to spend my summer. It was also a great chance to see the kids again. I want to continue to pour into them through camp.”
What is your favorite thing about Barefoot?
“Recently, I have been really attracted to the energy. There is so much energy everyone comes with. The kids have a lot of energy because they are anxious and anticipating the week. But, the counselors have a lot of energy too. It’s a very positive place.”
Why do you think diversity is important?
“I think everyone sees there life as normal. Like growing up, I though everyone went home to a mom and dad. My mom stayed at home. My dad was a business man who travelled a lot. I thought everyone grew up in a neighborhood like mine. Diversity, however, brings all of these perspectives together. It allows people to see that no matter where your from, your skin color, your parent’s salary, that we are not all that different. We are not called to be separated by zones. Society likes to keep everyone in their own zones. But, diversity opens new doors that need to be opened. When those doors are opened, God uses those opportunities.”
What have you learned so far this summer?
“I have learned a lot about the kids being a worship leader. Last year, I helped with worship; but this year, I have the opportunity to lead it. Beforehand, in preparation, I can underestimate their ability and their willingness to worship. A few weeks back, I started playing ‘Holy Spirit.’ As soon as I began the verse, the kids just took off with it. Sometimes we have really quiet groups or really distracted groups, but Barefoot’s environment is so Christ-centered that all you need is to start the engine on the kids and they will begin singing their own praises. I have learned not to limit the kids’ abilities and especially, not to limit God’s abilities. ”
Today was hot! But with our water bottles in hand, we conquered our third day of camp. Every morning, campers take ten minutes of silence. This silence is set aside so that these students are able to read their bibles, journal, or pray. I cherish this time of reflection and peace. Its beautiful to see the campers take time out of their busy day to spend personal time with God. As I visited all of the specialties today, I was blown away by the talents of these campers. The youth production Saturday will be quite a treat for all of the friends and family members of these students. After a lot of learning, practicing, and playing around, we gathered for one of Barefoot’s most beloved tradition: Iron Man. Iron Man is a relay race that wraps all around campus. Campers start by throwing footballs and basketballs; then, they eat unknown substances and solve riddles; Some campers swim across the rec lake and throw Frisbees; others run around the baseball diamond and shoot paintball guns. In the end, Flaming Waffles crossed the finish line first. They celebrated their victory with a lot of jumping and dancing. After we were all cooled off and full of Chef Rhonda’s cooking, we gathered for worship in the U.N. Kathleen spoke about our verse for the week, Romans 12:1-2. She encouraged the students to not conform to this world. She used patterns to emphasize that Christians break the patterns of this world. The speaker this week has spoken messages that not only apply to 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders, but also to all of the staff and counselors. The word’s God has given Kathleen will hopefully carry with these campers for the rest of their lives, even if they don’t realize it. We ended the night with our showcase performace. Republics have been creating a skit all week that encompasses this summer’s theme, Inside Out. The republic Popcorn was transformed from the inside out by Molly the Microwave. Juicy Boys drank Jesus’ juice. Life Changing Bulldogs were transformed by Jesus from a bulldog into a human. Just 4 Jesus Girls brought McDonalds and Burger King together to teach us that all hamburgers are created equal. Popcorn, a girl’s republic, claimed victory; and we all ate our actual popcorn on our way back to our cabins.
Day 3 Recap Video!
Camper + Staff Interviews
Why did you come back to Barefoot?
“It was pretty fun last year. I really like playing in the lake and playing sports during free time.”
What is your favorite thing to do here?
“Pretty much all of the sports?”
What have you learned about God?
“That we are always loved by Him”
What has been your favorite memory at Barefoot?
“The last worship that we had last summer. I cannot really explain what happened. But I have already asked God into my heart, but I did it again during that worship service.
Why did you want to come to overnight camp instead of day camp?
“My older sister came here and she told me a lot about it. She told me about messy games, the worship, swimming, and all the specialities.”
What is your favorite time of the day?
“Free time. I get to go horseback riding or swim in the lake.”
How do you like your cabin?
“It’s great! I really love my counselors.”
What have you learned about God this week?
“Today at low ropes, we did the mine field. We had to listen to our partner while we were blindfolded so we would not hit anything. But everyone was talking at the same time so it was hard to hear. Theo told us that it was like God trying to speak to us. He has to get us through things even though it is really loud outside.”
How has Barefoot been different this year?
“Logistically, it is different. But, I think the same idea of Barefoot still exists. Regardless of the new games or new staff, we are all here for the same purpose. I really love that no matter how much things change, the mission statement of Barefoot remains.
Why did you come back for a second year?
“I really love this place. I was really encouraged by other staff members. Barefoot allows me to step out of my comfort zone. I am an introvert. But here, I have grown tremendously, especially spiritually. This place has moved me. Barefoot has made me feel accepted and loved. Barefoot is a family. Even though I haven’t known some of these people for very long, it feels like it has been forever. Some people I haven’t seen since last year, but there is still an amazing connection between us because of Barefoot that will always be there.”
What has been your favorite memory at Barefoot?
“Last year, I was a lifeguard. I love being on the shore and behind the scenes because I get to watch the kids have fun. Yeah, it is hot and sometimes, I may not want to go. But seeing them love on each other makes it all worth it. I interact with these kids all the time, but being able to observe them from the outside and not teaching them allows me to see how God is working within them. It’s beautiful to see how much these kids love God and how they are here because they love God.”
Why is diversity important at camp?
“I think it is important for a lot of different reason. For one, the awareness of diversity. We tend to only be comfortable with similar people, people who speak the same language, come from the same background, and look the same as us. I feel like it is important to step outside of that comfort. Even if we look the same, we are all going to have a differences. It is so important to me because I am Hispanic. Growing up, I was always treated badly because of my skin and my accent. I didn’t know that it was okay to be different. It made me very shy, timid, and reserved. I never understood why the world was like this. Growing up, I realized there were a lot of people going through the same thing. It is important to know that people are different. If we all work together, we realize that we all have similarities. No matter who you are, diversity is important and brings people together. I love how Barefoot includes that. Kids realize that they are not all the same, but we are all unified in Christ. We should all embrace our differences. We should embrace how God made us. And we should love others for their differences. “
Today was bittersweet. It was our last full day of camp; but, we get to see our parents tomorrow! (yes, I also get to see my parents tomorrow!) We woke up and praised the Lord this morning. I love beginning and ending our day with worship. Every aspect of Barefoot is saturated with Jesus. Even in our specialties and free time, we are talking about Jesus or pointing our campers to Jesus. Today, we finished preparing for the youth production. You are going to be amazed at what your students have put together this week. Some might underestimate the abilities of these kids because of their age, but they will exceed expectations. We finished the afternoon with a favorite Barefoot tradition: Braveheart. The objective of the game is to protect the counselors from getting messy. In previous years, Braveheart has been a giant food fight; but, this year we added something new: color. Campers get to throw paint, color bombs, and colored flour all over their opponents. It was a stiff competition, but Legendary Peace Keepers came out on top. After scrubbing paint and powder off of us, we gathered for dinner to hear the winner of Purple Cup. I hate it for you fellas, but ladies won! Popcorn, the oldest girl’s cabin, celebrated with an ice cream party. We ended the night a new Barefoot tradition: washing feet. After worship, counselors prayed over there students. They told them what they saw in them and how they saw God working through them. As they pray, they washed the camper’s feet to symbolize the service of Jesus. I was able to be apart of a few of these prayers and I was moved by these relationships formed by the counselors and the campers. God was present. His voice was being heard through these counselors. I pray that these students experience real transformation. I pray that the things they have heard this week will stick with these campers. We ended the night with a camp fire and smores. We cannot wait to share the hard work of these campers with you tomorrow.
See You Tomorrow,
Camp is over! We have had an outstanding week full of fellowship, the Word, and lots of fun activities. Today, family, friends, and campers gathered to see the talents and hard work developed over this week. Vocal performance sang beautiful praise songs. Stomp shared the beats they have been working on all week. Photography captured God’s beauty. Film transformed the villains to the good guys. It was an exciting youth production that showcased just a little bit of what the students experienced this week. Throughout the program, we hand out awards to students who we have seen shine this week. Paige Goldthorpe and Cooper Jenrath were awarded our Mr. and Ms. Barefoot award. These students were a living example of Barefoot’s mission. However, so many campers showed fantastic qualities throughout this week. It was a pleasure to get to know your children. We have seen God doing great things in them. We hope to see them back next year for continued transformation and fun.
Thanks for Reading,
Weekly Recap Video!