Summer Camps impacting young lives around the world
Summer Camps impacting young lives around the world
Summer camps are an integral part of life for children, teenagers, young adults, and their friends, growing up in The Salvation Army.
These camps give young people the opportunity to learn more about Jesus, encounter him in a new and powerful way, build lifelong friendships, and enjoy a range of experiences that otherwise might not be possible.
During the camps, many young people make decisions for Christ. Others who are learning about faith for the first time often start attending Salvation Army youth groups and meetings and grow in the grace and love of God.
In the Northern Hemisphere, summer is drawing to a close, and many young people are returning from camp and preparing for the new school year.
Below we take a brief look at four camps from around the world that have made an impact on the lives of young people as they grow in their relationship with their Saviour.
The Dubossari Corps in Transnistria, Eastern Europe Territory, ran a week-long Vacation Bible School program, focusing on the topics of joy and truth.
The overall theme of school was “The road to the Emerald City”. The children looked at the characters from The Wizard of Oz, and the traits they were lacking – wisdom, courage, and love – and compared them with men and women of the Bible, and how God gave them those very same traits, and so much more.
Dozens of children enjoyed games, crafts, Bible studies, prayer and a happy and caring environment.
Many of the volunteers and leaders at the vacation school had attended past camps and wanted to give back by serving at the camp.
“We could see how God was changing the children over the duration of the camp,” said Dubossari Corps Officer, Lieutenant Maria Melnik. “He was changing, not just the new campers coming for the first time, but also children who have been a part of the corps for a long time.”
According to 11-year-old Yaroslav, “The Salvation Army is the best place in the world!”
Transnistria is considered by the United Nations and international community to be part of Moldova. It is a landlocked, self-proclaimed state situated between the River Dniester and the border with Ukraine.
For the second-year running, the intensive efforts of Salvation Army youth workers in the capital, Warsaw, made possible Christian camps for young people from all four corps of The Salvation Army in Poland (Germany, Lithuania and Poland Territory).
Fourteen teenagers were part of the week-long summer camp held in the mountains at Miedzybrodzie Żywieckie in the province of Silesia.
“Breathing pure mountain air and enjoying breathtaking views, the young people took part in Bible classes, English language schools and sports,” said Captain Caroline James, Regional leader in Poland with Captain Philip James.
“We also had the pleasure of hosting two professionals who came from Warsaw to carry out DJ workshops with our youth.
“This time for the youth was a wonderful spiritual experience and we pray that we will be able to return here next year.”
Corps leaders will continue to work with the young people throughout the year.
In Chlapowo, on the Baltic Coast, 33 young people took part in the summer camp that included worship, Bible study, sport, craft and visits to local attractions.
“Twenty-two young people declared their willingness to follow Jesus, and have begun their spiritual journey,” said Tetyana Ouerghi, Manager of The Salvation Army's Children's Centre in Warsaw.
“The staff were also able to work together for a common vision and plans for the future of The Salvation Army’s youth and children’s ministry in Poland.”
In the village of Starachowice, 150km south of the Polish capital, Warsaw, children from The Salvation Army’s youth club, and the friends they invited, enjoyed day camps over the summer and participated in a range of activities and worship.
Approximately 100 children, leaders and officers shared in the first Regional children’s camp in Romania. Through the theme “I Can”, the children quickly learnt that Jesus loves them, with his help they can do amazing things, they are valued and have a purpose.
“This is so important, because the ‘world’ around them tells them differently,” said Australian officer, Colonel Wendy Walters, Territorial Leader of the Eastern Europe Territory, with Colonel Rodney Walters.
“For many of these children this was the first camp they have ever attended, so to be surrounded by leaders that loved them, in a beautiful rural setting and able to enjoy good food and activities was such a blessing.
“The camp was run on the tightest budget! The majority of the children are loosely linked to the Army through after-school programs or the social based project Genesis Mission; helping alleviate poverty in Romania.
“The Salvation Army in Romania would love to own such a campsite where they would have the possibility to run more camps such as these, for not only children, but for youth, men and women of all ages. This is a dream for which we are believing!”
Valley of the Sun Corps in Glendale, Arizona, (USA Western Territory) ran a two-week summer day camp program, providing tutoring in English and maths, along with devotions, crafts, Bible stories and a trip to the indoor water park at the Phoenix Salvation Army Kroc Centre.
About 40 children, representing the community’s multicultural makeup, attended camp. Both the participants and volunteers are a testament to the corps’ multicultural outreach.
“I had a good time,” said 13-year-old Carlos. “I actually felt the Holy Spirit ... it was easier to learn about God.”
Juan, 14, shared his practical viewpoint. “Vacation Bible School was fun,” he said. “I hope the corps keeps doing it, because otherwise most kids would be inside playing video games all day, and that’s not really healthy.”
Thirty children stood to accept Jesus at the altar call.