We started off the morning bright and early (for most) at nine o’clock with registration and chants, and lots of water and bug spray. As the kids found their Republics, Julia and Michael— the Program Directors— taught them the chants and songs that we will be doing all week! As the final buses dropped their excited kids, everyone headed upstairs to the loft in the barn for worship. After we sang out worship songs— “I’ve Got the Joy,” “Get Down,” and “Lean On Me.” The latter, a popular song for the camp, is based on our theme for the week: Lean on We. It is based on Ephesians 4:4-6, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
Afterwards, Amy Grant came out to talk to the campers. She asked if any of the campers were nervous, and told all of them that we could always breathe out the fear and loneliness and breathe in god’s comfort and love.
After we had finished the songs, and Amy Grant prayed over the congregation, Cali Bolinger, the camp director, began to explain some of what we would be doing in the camp— that is, until NFFL (National Flag Football League) players Penny and 7 Deuces interrupted her speech. They have come to find a player for their game before the championship, and hope to find that person at the “Bear’s Football Camp.” However, before they can start training, they end up getting interrupted by C. Grizzle, a budding entrepreneur who plans to destroy the campground to build the world’s first iPatch factory. 7 Deuces and Penny both swore that they would save the farm before he could, but they had to get onto training.
With no footballs for practice, four kids (two girls and two boys) played “Hut, Hut, Hike,” with rolls of toilet paper. It ended in a tie, and Julia and Michael came in moments after we finished dancing to keep everyone active and excited. They explained the four rules of the camp, ending with telling all of the kids to have fun. With the rules explained to the kids, we were all spread out to the Specialties— including music, film production, horseback riding, archery, hammock hike, tree climbing, stepping stones, painting corner, and more. The sun stayed out for the kids, and before they knew it, it was time for lunch. We all ate baked spaghetti, corn, garlic breadsticks, salad, and rice crispy treats. The kids all talked and ate their delicious meal, served by the staff.
As Outdoor Adventures started, the kids all got their assigned activities and ran off to play games with each other and learn new things.
With plenty of fun and water during the day, it was time for the awards, snacks, chanting, and then off to the busses they went, ready to head home and come back tomorrow for even more fun. While the heat left many of us sweating and red faced, we all had a lot of fun and got a good taste of the excitement yet to come.
With the temperature already rising above 70 degrees at eight in the morning, this steamy day started just as exciting as yesterday. Although the staff were slightly late to greet the kids— thanks to a mixture of a late staff meeting and an early bus— they still came chanting and rallying them up for the day.
With the first day jitters no longer apparent in the kids and staff, we headed up to the loft after a brief pause to change any specialties for the kids. We all danced and sang along to “Down” and other songs, pumping up the kids. Afterwards, with the kids ready to go, 7 Deuces and Penny showed up and took the reins from Cali.
7 Deuces was supposed to help think up the plan to stop C. Grizzle, but he got distracted by his Instagram account. As they panic over the fact that they don’t have an idea, C. Grizzle shows up to tell them and the kids that the bulldozers will be showing up tonight. As he makes his exit, reflected by his theme song, Penny and 7 Deuces both decide to try some training. They get two kids, one boy and one girl, up on the stage and give them headbands with step counters. The rules are explained— they have to shake their heads with the counters on and see who can “bobble head” the most— they start like a rocket. The boys took the prize for the day, but the girls became even more determined to win the next game.
Pastor Steve came out next, explaining the story of John the Baptist. He asked the kids if they have ever eaten a grasshopper (which some of the staff, including myself, actually have at one point for the sake of trying it once) to a mixed reaction of ews and kids telling him yes. He was strange for his time— eating locusts and grasshoppers as good, wearing camel hair in the desert, and praising God no matter what— but he still showed God’s love. Just like John the Baptist, the kids were asked to show his love and devotion to god.
Specialties games started off just as exciting as before, kids climbing trees to “rescue” little monkeys and learning about animals with Safari Steve in the Silly Safari. With so many kids playing drums, riding horses and shooting arrows as they tried something new.
After Specialties and Outdoor Adventure, we headed up to the tents for a delicious lunch that consisted of chicken, macaroni, dinner rolls, and brownies. They all had a short devotion in their tents before they got food, and afterwards it was time for Outdoor Adventure where they played Barnyard Games and Soccer.
They ended the day with a delicious snack of fruit, paired with lots of water, and headed up to the loft for Republic awards before heading home with tired smiles on everyone’s face.
With a loud cry of “BUS COMING” from Republic Leader Jacob, the staff that weren’t waiting at their signs for the kids instantly ran over to greet the kids with chants and high fives. The day was already proving the weather man wrong once more with not a raincloud in the sky, and the busses seemed to get there right on time— it was looking to be a perfect day.
After everyone was registered and had their name tags, we all headed up to the loft for worship (featuring the songs “Joy,” “Down,” and “Lean on Me.”) along with a special skit featuring C. Griswold, Penny, and 7 Deuces— who finally reconciled and saved the camp (some of the kids were a little too afraid for the future of the farm). With the kids’ fears relieved, they had a little bit of skills training by making a beard on the Republic Leader’s faces with Vaseline and Cheerios— because every great quarterback has a cool beard. With the boys taking the lead once again, Pastor Steve came up to deliver the message. Today’s story was the parable of the wise man and the foolish man building their respective houses. He explained to them that just because the majority goes along with something doesn’t mean you should— you need to do things that god would want you to do.
Afterwards, the bike helmets were strapped on at mountain biking, horses were saddled, and drums had their drum sticks prepared for the kids to bang away to their heart’s content.
When it was time for lunch, the kids munched down on hot dogs, chips, and dilly bars from Dairy Queen. They ate their ice cream bars as they listened to their devotions, and headed back down for one more Outdoor Adventure and Specialty before the buses headed in, and they left the farm behind in a cloud of dust and the sound of laughter.
Camper & Staff Interviews
Have you ever been here before? “I’ve been here two times before this.”
What has your favorite thing about barefoot been? “Horses!”
What are you doing right now? “I’m watering the grass with my water bottle.”
What brought you to Barefoot?: “Last day of school, my friend Sivil asked me to go to a pool party and I was introduced to it there
Favorite thing about Barefoot Republic?: “The children— some are energetic, some are creative, and they all inspire me.”
— M. Kelly
With a 60% chance of rain, the staff was prepared to do whatever was needed if the sky decided to do a small scale showing of what Noah lived through. However, before we could put that plan into motion, the buses had to roll in with kids in tow.
When the first few kids came in, the staff was finishing up their pre-camp worship with the song “Good Father,” and had an impromptu ministry moment as they got to see how the ‘grown-ups’ praised God together. After the staff had finished, it was time to go into full camp mode, megaphones turned up as high as they could go and the chanting beginning as loud as ever.
Once we had finished every chant in our never-ending repertoire, it was time for Specialties… which was quickly cut short by rain and lightning. While the horses and animals from the Silly Safari might like the break, Michael and Julia quickly got the kids dancing and laughing— ending in a dance-off with the kids as the judges and counselors as dancers, judged by the volume of kids screaming. By the end of the dance-off (and what remains of my eardrums) it was determined that AyeAye and Grant were the girls and boys’ and girls’ winners.
After they had danced their heart out— and the kids screamed their lungs out— Julia and Michael announced that they had The Lego Movie for the kids to watch in the loft. The movie was about halfway finished when it was time for lunch and devotion— chicken strips and chips from Dairy Queen while Grant told the story of the Good Samaritan to the kids so everyone could eat their food before the movie came back on.
As the final credits rolled, the lightning had ended and the kids could finally go out and finish up with their day by going to Outdoor Adventure and Specialties. Even though some activities were not available, like sports and the hammock hike, the kids still played to their hearts content until it was time to load up on their buses and head home for the night.
— M. Kelly