Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Thoughts from Elementary Camp - Part 1

99 kids. 26 leaders. 3 days, 2 nights.  Look Up Lodge.  This is how our 3rd & 4th grade Camp would look to anyone on the outside.  But for the 125 people who spent a weekend away at camp, they would have an entirely different perspective to describe to you today.  This was our first year going to Camp with over 100 people, with almost 40 more people than last year.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but I knew what there would be:  chaos, as there always is when you take a bunch of elementary-aged kids anywhere; energy, with our crazy camp competitions and skits; home-sickness, since it was most kids' first time away from home, and that children would be challenged in their faith, through the teaching that was given.

I did not know how great it would be to see our leaders come alongside these kids to encourage them to live as God wants them to live.  One concept that has been a focus at Grace is how God created us to be male and female -- equal but unique.  I saw it played out at Camp in how our leaders connected with the kids.  For examples, the boys were told to allow the girls to go first at each meal, not because of common courtesy, but because this was an opportunity for them to lead through sacrifice.  On the other side, the girls were told to not rub it in the boys' faces that they went first, but to respond with respect and thankfulness.  I think incorporating this kind of language at an early age is huge in encouraging kids to learn how to express the masculinity and femininity in the way God created us.

Another thing I did not expect was how much the boys were engaged during the Big Group time, as they sang loudly and did the motions.  Many of the boys were at the front of group.  Normally at this age, boys tend to fall back and disengage during worship time because they feel too old or "cool" to do the motions.  But, rather than being passive, our boys were leading through responding to God in song.

Lastly, I did not know just how powerful the teaching would be. Our two teachers, Brian Darnell and Stephen Fowler, were clear and direct in talking to the kids about our condition before God and need for a Savior (our "Substitute").  During our last Big Group session, Tim Bosier (who led worship) told the kids how he wished he would have received this teaching when he was their age, since it would have changed a lot of the decisions he made in life.  I completely agree with him.

I'm constantly amazed at the teaching and resources that Grace Church's children and students receive; growing up, I had nothing even remotely close to anything these kids are learning about.  We are blessed
in that our children receive teaching that is not sugar-coated or watered-down, but that gets to the heart of the Gospel and how God created them to live, so that they can live a passionate life for Christ.  I truly believe that our pursuit to equip our kids to become mature followers of Christ is producing life change in a generation that has the ability to change the world around them.  It's pretty neat to look back at Elementary Camp this past weekend and know that it is just one way that Grace Church is ministering to children and leading them to live a life worthy of the Gospel.

--  Nicky Darling, Elementary Coordinator

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