Day One was a wonderful day at West End Community Church. This is our fourth year at WECC and every year gets better and better. What I love about this week is that the diversity was physically present from the moment these children step into the building. Before we even knew their stories, you could simply look and see how God created every one of the kids differently.
The day started off with our musician, Kendra Weitz. We also met our skit characters, 7 Duece and Penny. They are 2 flag football stars who stopped by Barefoot this morning. They are looking for their next star quarterback to take them to the championships. They even had four students on stage today playing a silly game and showing the camp their quarterback skills. We ended the morning with one of our favorite speakers, Kat Murphy. Kat is a treat to have with us this week. Kat is the founder of My Own Backyard Ministries where she trains up leaders in the name of Christ. She brings us straight to the Word every she gets on the mic.
After all camp meeting had pasted, the students split into their small groups for their family devotion time. The first family devo of the week gives the children some time to learn more about each other, but its also a time for them to form a common bond. They banded together and created a “new identity” for their groups. Each republic colored and created their very own flag that represented their new group. For the rest of the week, the Republics identify themselves as the names they came up with on Monday. It’s one small thing that can glue together that diverse group.
Our specialty classes were filled with laughter and nervous excitement. You could tell that many of these children were trying out new skills or learning new things they had never learned before. During teambuilding, the children enjoyed games that exist to bring republic closer emotionally and spiritually. We’ll cover some of those games in more detail throughout the week, but it was amazing to see how the children embraced these games with excitement.
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. Their faces were gleaming as the received an award or when they watched their new friend earn one. We’ll actually do this every day simply to affirm the good in as many children as possible. If your child comes home with a green bracelet, that means he/she did something exceptional that day.
Day One was a day for the books. We continued the annual tradition and kicked off another wonderful week at WECC. We pray that every child felt loved and cared for from Day One and we look forward to sharing the week with them.
This week is already flying by too quickly. Yet, Day Two already had a more peaceful, “homey” feel to it as the children showed up in the morning. We started off the day as a large group in the gym, worshiping the Lord and hearing from Kat. She talked about how each one of us is loved by God, despite all the identities we or others try to attach to ourselves. Then she stuck stickers on us to remind ourselves all day long of our true identity in Him.
In our republic groups, students were introduced to the technique called storying. Brentwood Baptist 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 crafting these stories that are 1-3 minutes in length, trying our hardest to stay true to the meaning of each word from the bible. 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. Based on this and the age of our campers, 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.
The rest of the day was full of pony rides for our little ones and specialties for our older ones. Even though the heat was strong, Archery forged through with an amazing lesson. You could hear STOMP from a mile away. You could audibly hear how they begun to sink into their new band of players rather than focusing on their skills individually.
Today, some of the children partook in the egg drop. From the outside in, it seems like a simple game. But we are passionate about intentionality and long for the children to learn life lessons from every experience at Barefoot. They binded together as a Republic to protect an egg. They had 20 minutes and used anything on the floor or in their backpacks that they could find to wrap a protective layer around this egg. Once every group had spent time protecting it, the eggs were dropped from a 1 story balcony. The goal was to have a uncracked egg after the drop. This game teaches the campers how to protect the good things in their lives. Godly relationships within their group need to be padded with care. During our debrief, children reflected on the importance of what they learned.
Day 2 was full of excitement as laughter. They children ended the day with a dance to Tunak Tunak. We had a chance to celebrate the Indian culture and music within that country. It was fun to see them dance out their remaining slivers of energy for the day. We will see these amazing children tomorrow. May Day Three continue to be as epic as the last two.
Day Three was another fabulous day. The children had a wonderful time in the morning with 7Duece and Penny making cherrio beards on their counselors. Remember, they are looking for their next quarterback. And everyone knows that quarterbacks alway have the best beards. So Republic 3 and Republic 9 created faux beards on their counselors for laughs and giggles. We use silly games like this to soften hearts before they hear the Word of God. It helps the children to truly receive what He has to offer.
The children broke out into their family devotional time after that. This is time where they learn their bible stories. Today the learned about a wise and a foolish man. A wise man builds his house on a solid foundation. A foolish man builds his house on the sand. We compared those to people who listen to Jesus and the children were able to think for themselves of the value of Jesus’s words. At the end of the family devo time, we asked the children who they wanted to share the story with and then we challenged them to do so that night. I hope your children came home reciting it and sharing it with you.
Our specialties are busy getting ready for our performance on Friday. Drama is working hard to solidify their skit. The younger republics will be singing with Vocal Performance during the Youth Production. They are busy learning their song for the big day.
As Wednesday came to a close, we began to think about the next day. On Thursday, we have much to look forward to. The ponies will come back and we have our annual Ironman challenge. It will be an epic day here at WECC. Don’t forget to join us Friday at 2:30 for the Youth Production. They cannot wait to show you what they’ve learned.
What a wonderful day it was at camp. There was more smiles today than any other day this week. The children had a blast worshipping this morning with Kendra. Then 7Duece and Penny figured out a way to save camp. Only bad news is they are waiting until Friday to tell us what that is! The anticipation is high.
During our morning specialties, the child enjoyed putting their skills to the test. During Extreme Sports, the boys got some serious air. They are really beginning to excel in their new craft. They managed to safe the entire week as well! I’m proud of these boys for learning new tricks while keeping safety on the mind. Clearly I think more like a mother than I’ve ever realized.
Today the children enjoyed our Ironman challenge during teambuilding. It is a republic competition set up as a relay race. These children were really into it! 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. And the children had a blast lifting each other up. Everyone was purely exceptional at teamwork this week.
The younger campers got to enjoy the inflatable water slide for an hour today. It’s by far one of their favorite activities at camp. Just look at this smile.
Today wrapped up with awards and worship. We’ve enjoyed celebrating your children at the end of the day. Each republic leader goes on stage during the afternoon to give an award to one of their campers. It’s fun to gush over the positivity inside of these children. Each one of them are truly special in our eyes. We only wish we could recognize every single one of them.
We will see you all tomorrow for our Youth Production. Thanks for taking the time to affirm your children in the newly discovered or newly improved gifts. By showing up tomorrow, you are doing more in their hearts that you will ever realize. I hope God reminds you of that tomorrow. Even if a performance is 2 minutes long, the memory of you watching them with pride from the audience will stay with them for years to come. Thank you for a wonderful week parents and campers. May God continue the work He is doing in your children long after camp is over.