Today was the first day of camp at The Church at Woodbine. What a wonderful day! This week reflects our mission to its very core, bringing students together from all different backgrounds. In this week alone, we have 125 children from at least nine different countries of origin. It is a sweet picture of how God created us all unique. I get excited watching these children worship God together.
The day started off with our musician, Andy Wilson. He definitely makes worshipping the Lord fun! We should all know a few new songs by the end of the week that talk about God’s love for us. We also met our skit characters, 7 Duece and Penny, who are flag football players that stopped by Barefoot this morning. They are looking for their next star quarterback to take them to the championships. They even had two students on stage today playing a silly game and showing the camp their quarterback skills. We ended the morning with one of our favorite pastors, Jacob Fasig. He shared about how we all represented the image of Christ in our own way.
Once all camp meeting had pasted, the students broke up into their family devotion time. The first family devo of the week gives the children some time to learn more about each other, but also time to form a common bond. They split into their republics, banded together and created a “new identity” for the group. Each republic colored and created their very own flag that represented their new group. I sat in with the “Rainbow Thunders” today. It was heavenly to watch how creativity can melt away anxiety.
Soon after, our campers enjoyed their first classes in their specialty. Children were shooting hoops in Basketball, setting bows in Archery, learning instruments in Making of the Band and creating Art on their very first day. They had a blast learning new skills and perfecting some old ones.
After lunch, the children headed to team building. They experienced our portable ropes course, obstacle course, and egg drop game along with several other games within their Republic. This daily block is designed to set these campers up to participate in more intentional relationships. We long for them to form relationships built on teamwork, positivity and encouragement. The campers were chanting their new friends names and encouraging them from the sidelines. Luckily, we get to watch this unfold for four more days.
We came back together at the end of the day for awards and worship again. We recognized those students with awards who did something exceptional or was an exceptional friend to someone at camp today. Their faces were gleaming as the received an award or when they watched their new friend earn one. All in all, today was nothing short of wonderful. We cannot wait to see their beautiful faces tomorrow morning.
Campers came ready for Day 2. From the moment they walked in, you could tell they felt more at home. We started off the day again as a big group packed into the sanctuary, dancing with Mr. Andy. From there we broke up into our family devos.
In our republic groups, students were introduced to the technique called storying. Brentwood Baptist (the mother church of The Church at Woodbine) actually opened up Barefoot’s eyes to this technique 2 years ago. It has changed our staff and campers dramatically. During storying, we take verses (or whole stories) from the bible and create an oral version of it. We spend hours looking up the greek, trying our hardest to stay true to the meaning of each word. We make it oral because most of humanity actually learns more quickly through oral learning. In addition, here in America, most people are encouraged to read the bible to learn about Jesus, which is necessary and needed. However, we serve children that come from all different countries who speak all different languages. A good handful of them cannot read yet. So we teach these oral stories about their God so they can tell anyone about Jesus at the drop of a hat. They do not need a bible to share His love. They only need their memory.
Today the students learned about Jesus and John the Baptist. Some of the campers may have been introduced to Jesus for the first time. They covered verses Luke 3:1-22 and Matthew 3:7-9. By the end of the morning they had not only heard this story several times, but they were reciting it their entire republic. I have watched our children partake in family devo with this technique for two years. I still get tears in my eyes watching these children recite the stories in family devo. These campers were extremely excited about learning this way. And you could see the sense of accomplishment on their faces once they told the entire story back to the group. It was beautiful.
The rest of the day was full of pony rides for our little ones and specialties for our older ones. Some of our children were saying this was their first time on a horse. They each rode several times until they were satisfied. If your little one did not ride today and they are not scheduled into specific specialties, they will get a chance to ride ponies on Thursday.
After specialties, we headed to teambuilding again. Some of the children tried out our portable ropes course. Republic 2 worked together to complete some difficult tasks. But clearly they had a blast doing them together. Who knew lifting tires over poles could change a group dynamic?!
Day 2 was a fabulous day, full of fun and sinking into the surrounding of their week. We pray these children have now found another home in Barefoot. Each child is seen as beautiful to the day camp staff and we hope they feel loved every second of each day this week.
Day 3 was another one for the books. Laughter was the word of the day in my eyes. We started off the day laughing about silly things like cherrio beards. The campers Vaselined the counselors faces and covered it with cherrios. The best beard won! We use games early in the morning to bring out laughter. If a child is dealing with something hard or difficult in their normal day to day, laughter is the medicine that can help them put down the worry, fear or the wall that life has taught them to put up. Laughter softens the heart. Laughter softens it just enough so Jesus can squeeze himself into our hearts and minds. We are intentional with placing games before our pastor speaks for this simple reason.
I got to be a kid myself for a bit while I led one of the team building activities. The obstacle course can bring out the best in every camper. Especially the one that is sad and homesick. There were more giggles, chuckles and laughs than I’ve heard in a long time.
We had some epic slide pictures for Day 3! I think the waterslide is the children’s favorite part of the day. Barefoot has never once regretted buying that thing! To little bodies, it is like Nashville Shores rolled up into a little ball and transported to Barefoot.
In girls world, some of the children learned what it means to be a godly woman. They learned about our dear friend Ester from the bible. They also spent time pampering themselves with nail polish and jewelry making.
The children are busy preparing for the Youth Production at the end of the week. By now, they are sinking into their specialties and coming up with some fabulous performances. We cannot wait for you all to join us at 2:30 on Friday. Thanks for letting them share the week with us. We’ve made many friends that have impacted us for the better.
Thanks for joining us for another wonderful day again campers! Day 4 was unlike any other. There were a few hidden surprises tucked into today’s schedule. 7 Duece and Penny came up on the stage later to help us figure out how to save camp from C-Grizzle. 7 Duece thought of an idea, but he is waiting until Day 5 to tell us what it is. We cannot wait to see the plan. They also led us in a football fashion show contest, which the boys and girls were incredibly involved in. They were great at encouraging their teammates.
The remaining younger republics were able to hop on the ponies today. There were countless smiling faces. One of our ponies names is Socks. They children gave him all sorts of love today.
For our older groups, we had our annual Ironman challenge! It is a republic competition set up as a relay race. These children were really into it! Republic 5 went all out, painting their faces for hypeness. Each group is scored on their teamwork, hypeness and encouragement, rather than time. Staff are constantly trying to instill good teamwork characteristics in the children when competing. Republics were cheering for other republics. Another chant was, “We made a mistake, and thats okay” for when they completed the station incorrectly. The children had a blast. Ultimately Republic 4 and Republic 7 won. But everyone was exceptional at teamwork this week.
The children are busy getting ready for their performances on Friday. Spoken Word and Stomp felt ready by the end of the day. They are doing a great job preparing. We cannot wait for you to hear what they have created.
We ended the day with Andy, our musician. We were singing and dancing about who God is and how he loves us. I don’t think we realize what a treat it is to have Andy. Not only is he talented beyond belief, but they are singing pure truth about God every single day with the lyrics in his songs. They are singing the same songs everyday, not so they know the songs, but so they can memorize the truth that is packed into each of these songs. I hope to get you some pictures of them praising God together soon. Thanks for another wonderful day campers! May Day 5 be the best one yet!