This past week, we have had the pleasure and honor of coming alongside Golgotha Church to serve in their five-day children’s summer bible camp. One of the coolest things about this year’s camp was the ongoing drama which literally put kids within the gospel story.
The first day, each child had to perform a series of “tests” in order to become a pirate, such as walking across an unstable plank, climbing a rope ladder, and eating dinner on a rocking hammock (below).
One of the first things we found out was that our team was an answered prayer, as Golgotha Church didn’t have enough people to staff the camp. Our role was to be soldiers for “Black Beard.” Here we are standing, guarding our pot of food which the pirates “stole” from us on the second day.
Black Beard was the captain of the ship, who ruled over the land and angrily told kids what to do. Here is a picture of me getting Black Beard ready for the day:
The first few days, the kids learned about how the bible was a treasure – they went on hunts throughout the area to find their team’s treasure chest. Here is my team with the treasure chest that we found:
On the third day, the pirates were introduced to Archibold, who is the Jesus figure in the drama. After we talked about sin and the evil things that pirates do, all of us soldiers came in and demanded that someone die for the sins that were committed by pirates in the neighboring town. Inside the treasure chests, the children found “freedom papers.”
They were given the opportunity to sign these freedom papers, in which they left Black Beard’s team to join Archibold‘s. The final day, Black Beard came into camp, saying that anyone who didn’t have a freedom paper had to die. At that moment, Archibold offers to die instead of the children. The soldiers (Team Doulos) then beat Archibold up and took him away, where the children hear shots in the distance.
As I’m writing this, I realize that this drama might sound a little intense for a children’s bible camp. Well, it was. There were a number of children that cried during the skits, but I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. These feelings of fear are very real – the reality is that we all have to make a decision about where we are going in life, and the consequences of this choice is eternal. As the drama unfolded, I was so impressed to see how the children really got “into” the story and started making surprising connections between Satan’s control over us to sin and how Black Beard ruled over camp, then how Jesus Christ died to take our place in order to set us free.
Even more than the camp curriculum, though, what really impressed me was the people we served alongside for the camp. About 1/3 of the entire Golgotha Church devoted literally their whole week – from 8:00am to 7:00pm or later – to serve these children, let alone the months of supplies-gathering and materials-making beforehand. Despite the long, hot days, I never heard even a single complaint. I watched the staff literally lay their lives down for the children in the camp, and in watching this it was a tangible demonstration of the way that Jesus laid everything down for us. I am starting to understand the power of a team – there are no limits to what God can do with a group of people who trust one another and work together to share God’s love with the world.
I was so impressed by the quality of games, activities, and bible lessons at this camp that I’m hoping to organize this summer camp someday in the States. Until then, I’ll just continue to say, “Ay Ay, Matey!”