Our first elementary week! (July 9-14)

Elementary weeks at camp are always incredibly special! We often have so many first time campers, and they bring a special kind of excitement for literally everything every single day.

On Sunday the campers got off the bus and they eagerly asked all kinds of questions during our intro session where we went over the camp schedule and covenant. We moved quickly through a rotation including a swim test and a camp tour, where everyone got to hear all kinds of camp lore and trivia. Next we had dinner, which was a cabin unity theme, and then we had our first all camp game, campfire, and canteen. Even though Sundays seem like a short day here at camp, we pack in tons of fun as we launch the week.

At the opening campfire we talked about our camp theme this summer, which is “In the Light. Our director, Sarah, talked about how easy it is to dwell on this “wishing” feeling we all have. Sometimes we wish for new things or to be more like an admired person, etc. However, choosing to place yourself in God’s light means choosing to focus on what we do have rather than what we don’t have. God surrounds us with so many good things everyday, like friends, family, sunshine, etc. Everyday is truly an adventure when we are living in God’s light! And we can trust that God is always bringing us to a good place, even when the road is longer or harder than we imagined.

Monday was our first full day at camp, and our regular morning schedule included a chance to participate in bible study and to choose an 11 o’clock activity option, such as field games, canoeing, arts and crafts, and others. Lunch is always followed by cabin quiet time, and then in the afternoon the campers get to switch between swimming, canteen, and a large group game. Monday ended with a campfire talk from Lauren Thull, a first year staff member and college junior on Fun Squad. Lauren talked about her faith and recognising God’s presence in her daily life.

Tuesday was another very fun day! We have a mix of full week and half campers here this week, and it’s been nice to be able to offer these more customisable options for elementary campers. Tuesday morning and afternoon followed the same schedule as Monday, but with different games and activity options. We ended Tuesday with our all camp talent show, campfire, and a short movie in the chapel. It’s always so fun to see what each cabin comes up with for a fun skit! Tuesday night’s campfire talk was given by Carmen Casper, a second year staff member and college junior on Life Squad. Carmen talked about how you can always trust in God no matter what. It may take some time to understand God’s work in your life, but you can always trust him that he is bringing about what he knows is best for you.

On Wednesday morning we said goodbye to our first group of half week campers, and we welcomed our second set of new half week campers! Our new campers had a catch up session on our bible study themes after lunch, and then they joined in with everyone else for the regular afternoon activities. Our four bible study key words this summer have been: inclusion, compassion, forgiveness, and generosity. During staff training in early June, the college staff made videos around camp that focus on each word in an insightful and hilarious way! Wednesday afternoon was delightfully warm and sunny, and we fell in love with our new campers right away!

Wednesday night’s all camp game after dinner was a counselor hunt, which is always a favorite! Campers use the whole property to search for their counselors and try to guess which clue (aka a fun fact) is paired with which counselor. They collect beads and make a bracelet as they correctly guess the clues. Wednesday’s campfire talk was given by Patrick, and he had all of these kids totally captivated. Patrick is a first year staff member and college sophomore on Life Squad. Patrick talked about how easy it is to not feel good enough sometimes, especially when everyone else seems like they have special talents. He talked about learning that God made him special, and That God wants him to be himself. Everyone has the unique ability and calling to love everyone around them every day.

On Thursday all of our campers got to participate in Olympic day at camp. Everyone was a part of one of four teams, and they took turns participating in a variety of events. Olympic events include a canoe race, canoe sinking, sandcastle building, synchronised swimming, relays, tug-of-war, team chants, and more! The winning team gets a free sticker from canteen, and this Olympic day was for sure a very special one.

On Thursday night we always have a very special closing service. Borrowing from a traditional Ash Wednesday service, we all receive crosses on our foreheads with ash from our campfire. Our camp director, Sarah, talked about how ash represents change, and how changes in our lives are always chances. When wood burns in our campfire, it gets a chance to go back into the ground and nourish all the trees around it. Similarly, when we go through changes, even when these changes feel like loses, we can find new nourishing connections in our lives. Every change is a chance for something new to grow in our lives, and sometimes what grows is better than anything we could have imagined beforehand.

Thursday night’s campfire talk was given by second year Fun Squader, Cece Casper, a college junior. Cece shared about how you don’t have to do anything to earn God’s love. Faith is a gift, and all we do is receive it. Thursday night ended with a final round of canteen snacks and cabin devos before lights out.

Friday was the day we said goodbye to all these campers we had grown to love this week! Campers headed to the chapel for the camp video before they started packing up and cleaning their cabins. We close with a picnic lunch every Friday, including chips and corn dogs and hot dogs and popsicles. After everyone was finished eating and both buses were packed up the staff said goodbye to the campers and sent them on their way back to Eden Prairie. 

We had such a fun week this week, and we can’t wait to see everyone again next summer!