Church camps, Bible schools help kids grow in many ways

 

It was not yet 8:00 last Monday when we walked up to a small tent, one of several pitched along the sidewalk at Emmanuel Baptist Church. It was just a flyspeck compared to a couple of “big top” massive tents the church had erected in support of their annual “Champ Camp” for youngsters.

Kids were already everywhere, playing four-square and “sword fighting” with giant foam noodles and many other games. As kids will do, some were merely “hanging out,” standing around watching each other in anticipation of the whistles blowing and that day’s camp activities to formally begin. It was a combination of children’s church and TV game show where youngsters learned to play and support and cheer each other while they were also taught the salvation lessons of Jesus.

What it was, also, was an enormous undertaking that required dozens, if not hundreds, of volunteers to be a success.

And a success it was.

I had a few moments of trepidation as I approached the signup tent where nine year old grandson, Jaxson, had been pre-registered. As is typical with this shy young man, he was solemn, eyes downcast and almost hiding behind me. He’d already begged to be left at home to play.

Broad smiles and cheerful welcomes from Robby and Heather and several more volunteers quickly had us at ease. By that afternoon, Jaxson was running, skipping, laughing and having the time of his life amidst several new friends. Heather, noting Jaxson’s early shyness, was close by, keeping an eye on him, which I appreciated.

At the close of each day, the kids had the parables of Jesus’ life reinforced for them and then they cheered, sang and shouted as teams of eager youngsters competed in a variety of zany activities, like who could be the first to get a cookie from the middle of their forehead and into their mouth, while not using their hands? Or who could create the best “mummy” by wrapping their partner in a whole roll of toilet paper in only a minute’s time?

It was easy to tell Pastor Mike Stone, his staff and all of the volunteers were enjoying Champ Camp activities practically as much as the youngsters.

Stone was doing his best Bob Barker imitation as he roused the campers to cheer on their buddies in each “Win It In a Minute” competition. The kids were in a frenzy as he led the countdown, “Five... four... three...two, ONE!”

As I sat there and watched Jaxson’s smile and the faces of hundreds of kids around him, I said a prayer of thanks for strong, vibrant churches and so many kind, caring people who give of their time, talents and money to help local youngsters have a great time. Plus, they get to learn of the love of the Lord and learn to follow his teachings.  Fortunately, a similar opportunity is awaiting Jaxson and other children at vacation Bible schools. Champ Camp closed last Friday but VBS has started up at First Baptist and other churches.

School may be out but some of the best learning is going right on.

• Robert M. Williams, Jr. is Editor & Publisher of The Blackshear Times. Email: rwilliams@theblacksheartimes.com.

Robert M. Williams, Jr. can be reached at rwilliams@theblacksheartimes.com.