When the Senior High campers arrived at Barefoot today, they were greeted by 1) rain and 2) a lot of love! The counselors helped out with luggage and getting everyone to their cabin, but not before a special moment was celebrated. Our 10,000th camper was registered! Houston Hartle was surprised to see a banner and confetti appear at his check-in, as many people probably would be. But who could pass up a significant milestone like this? We are so blessed to have been able to serve over 10,000 campers in our time of being a camp, and hope that Jesus has reached every single one in the process.
We went on to our Republics and came up with names, chants, and flags. The names were all interesting to say the least: Republic 8 calls themselves Republic 7, Republic 4 is named the Raindrops, and Republic 9 is named The Tribe. After going over the camp rules, everyone was introduced to their assigned specialties. Each camper has two specialties a day, and it’s where they learn about their passions. These classes range from sports like football, to arts like graffiti. The campers are given an opportunity to show their work at the end of the week’s Youth Production, which we invite the campers’ families to come see!
After taking a swim test to ensure the campers’ safety in the Rec Lake this week, we ate dinner and headed over to the evening program. This is where God pours into us via worship and a message. Pastor Joel discussed why God made us, and how He really doesn’t need us. He made us according to the good pleasure of His will; He has so much love, He can’t keep it to Himself. He wants us in His family! Hearing this truth was beautiful to me, and I am so thankful that the campers got to hear it too.
The night ended with our first Republic competition, Messy Games. Throughout the week, we keep points for the Republics, and whoever has the most at the end of our time together will win the Purple Cup! This is the ultimate prize, so the campers know they have to work together all week to try and achieve this goal. In the Messy Games, they used their mouths to get Swedish Fish out of pickle jello, dunked their face in oats and milk, and raced to get their Republic Leaders covered in shaving cream (and eventually, pouring water on their heads). This is always a good time, but it’s also a little gross, so showers are a must afterwards. Our first day was one for the books, and we are thrilled to see tomorrow!
Although rain continued today, we didn’t let it halt our fun! We had a team building activity today, which we call Regatta. This is where we let the Republics build a boat out of cardboard, duct tape, plastic and pool noodles.
A lot of boats unfortunately didn’t make it very far across the lake carrying the campers, but some did! The campers who bravely got in the boats are real troopers for paddling in the water for fifteen minutes. They were tired at the end, but they’d been cheered on the entire time by not only their Republics, but other Republics who may have lost out early in the game. This was so humbling to me, because despite of the competition we’re in, the campers still chose to support each other.
For the daily Republic completion, we alternated between two unusual sports: Crazy Ball and Angle Ball. Crazy Ball is basically soccer except using hands isn’t illegal, and Angle Ball has the objective of hitting a ball off a pole using another ball. These athletic activities sure made us hungry, so we immediately went on to dinner, where our amazing kitchen staff prepared my personal favorite camp meal: spaghetti and garlic bread. That transitioned into the evening program, where Dwight lead us in worship and Pastor Joel delivered a message. We are looking forward to continuing to grow in faith throughout the week, while having fun simultaneously!
Why have you returned to Barefoot for five years?
Because I really like how diverse it is and how I can understand people better that maybe don’t have the same life as me, and I really like that by the first day we feel like a family and we can open up and share our stories, and be vulnerable.
Can you elaborate on the diversity?
Yes! Barefoot brings people together from all different backgrounds and families. Y’all make people feel like we don’t have to be ashamed of where we come from. Like if we have a bad family situation, we don’t have to feel bad about it. We can find healing through thirst and through our friends who support us. So, I think it’s great that no matter our skin color or home life, this is an open place to not be ashamed.
What is something God has taught you here?
I came to Christ here when I was 11 on June 13, 2013. That was the biggest experience of my life, so I think I’ve learned who He is. Growing up, I didn’t really understand how much He loved me, but here I can see how He surrounds us. That is an incredible feeling, and I knew I had to be around it.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I love this camp, and coming here feels like coming home. My best friends and I met here, and for four years we’ve come on the same week. This is a great place to grow and bond together, and to meet new friends too. Also, the counselors are great at making you feel like they’re your friend and they will always be happy to see you, and if you need prayer, they’re right on it.
Why do you like Barefoot?
I like meeting new people and seeing my old friends. It’s great to come here and feel at home.
What do you like to do as activities here?
Art during free time, and photography as my specialty.
What have you learned about God here?
He revealed to me how forgiving and loving He really is.
Do you plan on returning in the future?
Yeah, this is the best camp ever and I’m gonna come until I graduate!
In the mornings here at Barefoot, we give the campers a short ten minutes to be still and know God. They have this time to read the Word, think, or pray to themselves. They spread out around campus so that the distraction of other people will cease and they can fully focus on the Lord. The campers taking this opportunity seriously is beautiful to see, especially at their young age. I pray that they keep this mindset as they grow up and go through life.
As a team building activity, we did a new activity called “Lock Box.” Every Republic had a small box that was locked up, and they were given riddles and clues throughout the camp. They ran from the UN, to the paintball field, to the baseball field, to the low ropes course. Talk about being tired! If you think that’s a lot of running around, just know that we also participated in Iron Man today! This is a camp favorite, because so much reliance is used in this camp-wide relay. Every camper competes in a certain area of the race, like soccer, gross food eating, mind games, and a dizzy bat. They end the race with arms linked under the “FINISH” banner, and ended the activity altogether in a rendition of the national anthem.
Evening program was much different tonight than it has been all summer. After Pastor Joel spoke, he made sure all the leaders specifically prayed for every camper in the situations they may be facing. In the greatness of God, Dwight led us in a worship dance party afterwards that even I got to be a part of! I have never felt the joy of the Lord the way I did tonight, and I’m stoked for the campers to know that joy. God is so good!
Happy Fourth! To start the day strong, we decided to wake up the campers at 5:45am by screaming into megaphones that we were moving our annual paint/flour war, Braveheart, to 6:00am! This was a huge shock, as a lot of these campers have been here for years and have always done Braveheart before dinner on the last full day. We aren’t always super predictable, and we proved that today with the battle to protect our counselors form all the messy ammunition thrown all around the paintball field.
The schedule for the day was obviously altered by that, but we still managed to have lots of fun! Our specialties were back to back, and our downtime was extra long so we could catch up on the sleep we lost this morning. We then went on to free time and then a more serious note: Right Foot / Left Foot. This is where our male emcee, Manny, reads a list of statements that are personal, and a little hard-hitting. They deal with home life and social situations. We begin the activity in one long line, and end it all over the place. This shows that the day the world views us is broken and messed up, because God loves us all the same way, no matter what. We were able to end this in a big circled, connected by holding hands.
After free time, we ate dinner and headed on over to the evening program. After another joyful worship session with Dwight, Joel gave a beautiful message about what Jesus did for us with His blood. He transferred our sinner DNA for his own, like a leukemia patient receiving a bone marrow transplant. He didn’t just save us, he gave us a family (the kingdom). We followed that with a reflection time in our Republics.
To celebrate the Fourth of July, we set off fireworks (paid for by donations of the Barefoot staff) and had the Block Party to dance, complete with snow cones. We are so blessed to live in a free country, and to be at Barefoot for camp this week.