The fourth and final junior high session of camp began today! This summer has been an adventure, and we are so happy to have these campers to go out with a bang. The first thing we do is introduce the campers to the cabins they’ll be staying in, the counselors who are taking care of them, and their fellow campers to go through the week with. All of these things combined make up a Republic, which they will stick with all week. To represent the Republics, each one was asked to come up with a name, chant, and flag. They presented all of this to the entirety of camp after being told the rules, and then they were introduced to their specialties for the week. Basically, specialties are classes the campers take to further their skills in whatever they may be passionate about. They take two of them a day for the week whether it be in the art field or the athletic. No matter where the students end up (and they are given the opportunity to pick, or change!), they always benefit from learning.
The campers took a swim test so that our lifeguards can be sure that they’ll be safe when they want to come to our Rec Lake, and then they headed down to dinner and evening program. Every night, we have a worship session and a sermon. This week’s speaker is Chan, who works with Preston Taylor Ministries in Nashville. After his message, the Republics split up to reflect and prepare for our first competition for the Purple Cup: Messy Games. All week, the campers will participate in challenges to earn points. They do this in participation in chants, punctuality, finding treasure hidden among camp, and these games. Tonight, they had to put their faces in pickle jello, dunk their heads in milk and oats, and make their counselors as dirty as possible. Overall, our day was long and exciting. Tomorrow will be even better!
Our first full day of camp has completed, and it was an exciting one! We started out the day with the grand ten minutes of silence. This is a time where we ask campers to go off by themselves and be with the Lord. They can choose to journal, read, pray, or just be still and know His presence. This daily time is so humbling to me because I love seeing the campers invest in the Lord. In today’s world, that isn’t something people regularly take time to do. I pray that they will take that practice into their lives outside of camp in the future.
Our Republic competition of the day was a game called “Crazy Ball”. The boys played the girls in this crazy rendition of soccer, which includes being able to use your hands. They headed off to dinner and then to evening program, where worship commenced. This week, we’re blessed to have some of our very own staff leading it, and they do a wonderful job of keeping everyone engaged while giving God all the glory. Chan spoke again and used Ephesians 4 as a basis. He even provided handouts to follow along, and that was a great way to keep up. After a short debrief, we ended the night with a block party. This is just a huge dance party in the U.N that isn’t for points, it’s just a fun part of camp that tires us out for bedtime. And that it did.
What has your favorite part of camp been?
God! They teach use lot about the bible. I love reading about things that happened a long time ago.
What specialties are you in and how are they?
Basketball and dance. I love playing basketball in the afternoon and dancing in the morning. I’m the only boy, so our class is named “Jimmy and the Divas”.
Would you want to come back to camp in the future?
Yes, I hope God makes a way for that to happen.
Kiara | 10 | Richmond, VA | 1st year camper
What has been your favorite part of camp so far?
I’m one of those people who doesn’t have favorites when there is too much to choose from.
What do you like to do for free time?
I had a lot of fun at the Rec Lake today because there was swimming.
Is diversity important to you?
Yes. I think it’s a good thing because it’s good to know that different races and cultures are accepted.
Camp is always a good time, but there are always highlights that need to be recognized. We had our second day of team building, and we did a boat race using the boats we made yesterday. The trick is, though, that the boats are only made out of cardboard, plastic, duct tape and pool noodles. Also note that the boat has to be strong enough to carry a camper across the Rec Lake for at least 15 minutes! Some boats didn’t go far at all, unfortunately. Thankfully, that didn’t stop the campers from cheering on their fellow Republics in their journeys across the lake! Later on in the day, we had a camp favorite as a Republic competition: Iron Man. This is a huge relay across camp that involves an array of sports and wit. Some campers swim, some eat gross food, some shoot basketballs and some shoot paintball guns. In the end, every Republic had to form a three person high pyramid and link arms to the finish line (with the obstacle of two soccer goals to get past)! This teaches team work and perseverance, and the campers really get into it. The teamwork they showed was amazing and we are so proud of them!
The night ended with worship, a message, and showcase practice. Tomorrow, the campers will preform skits they made up with their Republics to embody the theme of camp, Lean on We, and the theme verse, Ephesians 4:4-6. We are intrigued to see what they’ve come up with, and there will be updates on that tomorrow!
How is your first year at camp going?
It’s been really fun and including. I came here with my friend, but I met three more in my cabin.
What do you like to do for free time?
Go to the lake and just float, or play GaGa ball.
How would you say diversity is a good thing?
It’s not good to group people up, because God made us all the same. I think this camp does a great job of making new friendships between new people.
What makes you want to return to Barefoot each year?
I’ve always enjoyed it more than other camps. I’m sure a lot of people say this, but the environment and energy is really refreshing.
What competition is your favorite?
Iron Man, because you get to see everyone’s talents and use them to win.
What have you learned about God from Barefoot?
Something I’ve learned about God is that He will always forgive you no matter what you do. I’ve always been afraid that He won’t forgive me after some of the things I’ve done, but He always does.
Here at camp, we like to have a lot of fun. With that, we also have a serious side of things. Barefoot is about embodying several different types of people under one God, and unifying ourselves to love and serve Him. As a physical demonstration of that love, we did an activity called “Left Foot / Right Foot”. We have every camper get into one long, single file line and listen to instructions being read out by Manny. If a statement applies to a camper, they either step left or right, depending on the question. What started out as one line ended in a chaotic display across the filed we were standing in, and it suddenly became very real to the campers that our world has created so many ideas that we are all broken and in bad places. We ended LFRF in a circle, with joined hands, to symbolize our equality no matter where we come from.
Our Republic competition tonight was the show case, which I mentioned yesterday. Every Republic blew us away with their talents and hilarity. We are still awaiting the winner, but it was clear that everyone did amazing! The campers ate their popcorn and headed off to bed, to rest up for the last full day of camp.
Have you enjoyed camp so far?
Yes! I am making lots of friends and getting closer to God and Jesus.
Tell me about Braveheart.
Braveheart was fun because I got to throw stuff all over my counselors.
How is your cabin?
So great. I have the best counselors, like Kendraya.
Having worked at Barefoot for the past eight weeks, I can conclude that the fifth day of the week is the most challenging. This isn’t a bad thing at all, though! The challenge results in the greatest successes. The last full day of camp is where we begin to wrap up specialties, and perfect everything for the Youth Production tomorrow. The last Republic competition, Braveheart, is another challenge to overcome on the lat full day. The Republics are given paint, flour, and colored water as ammunition to get other Republics as dirty as possible. This is even messier than Messy Games (the first completion of the week), so showers are always crazy full afterward!
Purple Cup ends on the fifth day too, and we tallied up the points to reveal that Cabin 9 (Los Amigos) won first place! This means that in this whole summer, the girls have won four times and the boys have won four times. Manny and Conny, the emcees, said that tomorrow a tie-breaker will occur, and we will see if the boys or girls will take home the title of having won the summer!
We also have the last worship session and message. Chan did a beautiful job this week speaking the truth of God’s love, grace, and patience this week, and his final word resulted in several campers choosing to give their lives to Christ! We are so beyond thrilled for those students, as that is what the point of this camp is. Each Republic was given a few lanterns to write the things they were giving up to Christ on. They were lit up into the night sky and symbolically lifted from the campers lives into Heaven. This moment of camp is so moving and priceless to watch, and can hold a special place in the campers’ hearts.
Although day five brings many challenges, perhaps the greatest is the preparation of saying goodbye. Home sounds sweet, but time has flown by and we are so not ready to see the summer end. Please pray for a smooth departure tomorrow as well as the ending of camp!
Isiah | 11 | Atlanta, GA | 1st year camper
How did you become friends?
E: I saw him in my cabin and decided to talk to him.
I: We had a lot of things in common, like songs we like.
What do you like to do together?
E: We went zip ling together!
I: And played GaGa Ball, and rode skateboards during free time.
What did y’all think of Purple Cup?
E: It was fair.
I: We didn’t win, but we did get 500 points for having our water bottles.
What makes you like to be each other’s friend?
E: Well, he’s nice and respectful of other people. He gives people time to talk and doesn’t ignore anyone.
I: Eli is cool, never gets angry and is just really camp.
Youth production is always the last thing we do before camp ends. This is a time where we recognize the campers’ hard work and dedication in their specialties, and give out awards to campers that made a huge impact in the duration of their session of camp. Zack and Candace hosted the event, sprinkling information about camp between acts. Stomp brought out their barrels and beat rhythms, vocal performance sang two incredible songs, dance put out a flawless routine, and making of the band rocked the house. Every camper had the light of Jesus shining through them on that stage, and even the campers who were in non-preforming specialties did it all in His glory. We are so immensely proud of each and every student and what they did this week!
As for awards, we gave out several to kids who excelled in leadership, transformations, boldness and kindness. Receiving an award is a huge honor because the staff stays up late the night before and votes on who truly deserves it. Although we can’t recognize everyone, we are so blessed to have encountered everyone who was a part of Barefoot this year. Thank you for trusting us with your children and helping us reach our goal of uniting people from all over to know God.
Until next time,