Monday, August 6, 2012

Camp Rock (and post refresh)

Two weeks ago our children's ministry hosted our kids camp, called Camp Rock, up in the Blue Ridge mountains. This is like the 18th year Forest Hill has done an off-site kids camp and it has evolved and changed over the years to now be a pretty elaborate operation.

I seriously hate that Allie was not able to come this year. I didn't go away to camp when I was growing up, but I worked at one in college. I think it's such a fun and important thing for kids to be away from home with some sense of independence and having the time of their life with friends and trustworthy leaders. Even though Allie is officially now too old for Camp Rock, I hope we can somehow work out a way for her to do camp sometime in the future so she can have the camp experience. Since it's all about being outside, in nature, and doing fun/creative activities, I know camp is right up her alley.

Anyways... so this year's Camp Rock was tied into The Exploratorium back home (our elementary large group teaching environment) and the theme was "One makes the difference."

The quick synopsis is that our two chief explorers, Uncle Bill and Sam,
Photo by Yoshi James
had stumbled across this incredible cave while out looking for lost treasure. In the cave, they found some sort of existing outpost from a previous treasure hunter.

(here's the before picture of the room we meet in)
(and the after with the cave set.)

 Queen Esther's crown
This previous treasure hunter, may they now rest in peace (LOL), was trying to solve the mystery in the cave (identified by some strange carvings and impressions surrounding a wheel) and open the secret door hidden in the cave wall. The deceased explorer left behind clues for the next explorer in case he was never able to return.

Insert Uncle Bill and Sam.... and all the kids at camp.
Each day we would send out all the cabins (kids with their group of peers and counselors) on treasure hunts all over camp. Real treasure hunts, with real clues, and eventually they would find the 7 artifacts we needed in the evening to tell our Bible story. One artifact from each story fit into the unusual carvings in the cave wall and eventually, on the last day after the last artifact was put in place, the big wheel turned, and the secret door opened to reveal a giant treasure chest!

Each set of artifacts retrieved from the previous day would be inspected during club (large group) time and then a storyteller would explain how they fit with a particular Bible story, a story of how one person made a huge difference, stories like Esther, David and Goliath, the boy who gave up his lunch so Jesus could make enough for everyone, and the widow who gave everything she had.

All of this was building upon the bottom line/camp memory verse that "man looks at the outside, but God looks at the heart."That God wants us to make a difference in the world and share his love with everyone we meet. To know that he is the ONE hope, ONE love, ONE faith, ONE truth, and ONE God. Once the kids opened the giant chest on the last night, they found REAL treasure - coins with the camp logo on front side and the camp memory verse "Man looks at the outside, but God looks at the heart" on the back side. Each camper got a coin to take home to remember camp and what ultimately matters in life.
Didn't I tell you this was elaborate? :) Yes, we can't do anything small and yes we created every single thing about the camp experience from the stage set to the large group and small group lessons to the treasure hunts and to the "ancient" artifacts and coins. Isn't my job crazy? :)

At camp, my primary job was to help club time run smoothly and be the primary storyteller/artifact expert Tuesday night, the David and Goliath story. I had such a fun time sharing this story with the campers and helping them understand that there is only ONE true God.
Photo by Yoshi James
Anyways, I could type forever about all the camp activities we did and games and songs/worship, and cool creative elements I've barely mentioned, but the coolest thing (in my opinion) we did at camp was a few service projects to really help kids start making a difference today.

On Tuesday the kids were engaged in a few service projects around camp to serve the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly staff and property. On Wednesday, the kids participated in a Stop Hunger Now service project where they packed 20,000 meals to send to starving people all over the world. The kids were seriously so into this and loved helping. They wanted to pack 40,000 meals!

We all had to wear these really stylish hair nets. :)

This sealed bag holds 6 meals. I don't know about you, but this doesn't look like 6 meals to me! It really puts our American abundance in perspective.
Finished! Bags are boxed up and ready to ship!
On Thursday, the rising 6th graders did a pretty serious hike to the top of the mountain. This was a huge element of camp that really had a lasting impact on everyone involved. To know more about what happened on the hike, read my friend/co-worker Lindsay's blog.

All in all, camp was a huge success and many children came to know Jesus better or accept him into their heart for the first time. Even though we love to create incredible experiences and adventures and tell amazing stories from the Bible, the whole point is so kids know God better and trust him to lead their lives.

You can read about/see photos/watch videos from Camp Rock on the Camp Rock Facebook page. Check it out!

Even though camp was a huge success, I need A LOT of post camp TLC. Ha!

When I got home, I found fresh flowers from Zach. Yay. He had also made me a pedicure appointment for the next day which I SO needed.
At Polished. Love this little salon.
After I got my nails did and relaxed on the sofa for a bit, I went with my friend Laura and her parents to the Alison Krauss and Union Station concert over at The Music Factory. I haven't been to a concert in forever so this was a huge treat and we had a blast!
Mango Italian ice. SO refreshing on a hot night.
Alison Krauss is ridiculous!

They were seriously amazing. Thanks Howell's for taking me! You guys are the best!

The pedicure, concert, and being clean and comfy in my own home was definitely a great way to relax post camp, but nothing made me feel more at home than being back with my husband. Zach and I hate being apart so 5 days of camp was a little... miserable. Ha! It definitely made me appreciate him even more and recognize the incredible blessing God has placed in my life. I love you Z!

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