Last week was a phenomenal week. I had the privilege to take 50 or so volunteers into an elementary school and lead an arts camp. Now, there are lots of summer camps that happen around the city all summer long—but DreamBuilders Rhythm and Art Camp was a little unique because we were told these kids had never had a summer camp opportunity before. These were beautiful, hopeful faces who did not always have the luxury of counting on things like breakfast, clean clothes, or safety.
Our theme was Dream Big, Dream Now and the song that anchored us was “What Faith Can Do” by Kutless. The goal was to help these kids put a firm hope in God’s purpose for their lives, and encourage them to look beyond immediate circumstances that might weaken their dreams. We did that by giving them a highly relational week with about 1 leader to every 4 campers (sometimes we had so much help, it was 1 on 1!) We also tried to leave them with tangible experiences in ArKIDtecture, Creative Writing, Glee Choir and Drumming that planted seeds for developing their gifts.
I’m still processing all of it, but here are a few take aways I keep celebrating:
- It was an amazing collaboration between two ministries and a school. We truly relied on each other and focused on what we had in common. Lasting friendships and more dreams of making a difference were forged.
- It was a powerful reminder that miracles do “just happen” and God will surprise us if we give him room to work. While at a bookstore looking for Bibles to put in the camper gift bags for the end of the week, I was startled by an abrupt, but generous woman who reported that God told her to give me her $43 to help pay for the Bibles. I tried to protest, but she would not allow me to. Then, 5 minutes later, she startled me again by ripping the $43 from my hand and slapping a $100 bill on my shoulder and saying, “I want you to have this instead!” I attempted to say thank you and find out more about her, but in so many words, she told me to leave her alone! I’m guessing that she did not give from her abundance, but she gave anyway. I keep praying for beautiful blessings for her.
- It was a beginning to keep building on. Both churches have been helping this school all year, but this camp introduced dozens of people to the possibilities of how they can play a vital role in these kids’ lives. (I promised lunch and a back to school phone call to a little girl that spent time with me!) We discovered the kind of songs that kids will sing with all their might. We realized if we could help them build and design their own picnic tables for the playground—there must be other things we could help them build and improve for their school and lives. We read poetry that revealed emotions that need to be expressed and realities that need to be faced. We heard 30 hands pounding on djembes with exhuberance and joy that we want to help them harness.
I’m so thankful for all the volunteer leaders that gave up their time and served. They were middle school, high school, college and adult leaders who were the light from the city on the hill over and over again all week.