CAMPS 2019: Last Bell’s Relational Wellspring
We saw a record 70+ youth at English Language Camp this summer! At Stop the Cycle family camp, we welcomed 18 moms, four dads, 25 kids, and three volunteers (relatives of orphans). At our final camp, 28 students joined us. We’ve been making adjustments to improve the camp experience for everyone, especially our more logistically complex sea camps. All summer, we played together, enjoyed nature together, talked about Jesus, and learned about how to have healthy families and relationships.
Stop the Cycle Family Camp
At family camp, we saw relationships renewed and family bonds strengthened. At the beginning of the week, this young family had a major conflict. Sasha even began getting ready to leave. But our staff met with Sasha and Olya several times, helping them talk openly about how to change their interactions. The next day at the evening service, they were holding onto each other, and no more conflicts arose. At the end of camp, Sasha told director Andrey, “I’m so grateful that you invited us to this camp. It was an unforgettable time. Thank you for providing retreats like this to help us get away from our routines and strengthen the relationships in our family.”
Youth Retreat Camp
Staff member Lena A. shared, “This youth camp was the best I can remember in all my years of service: perfect weather; a friendly, warm, loving, and accepting atmosphere; no serious misunderstandings or conflicts… we were like one big family.” Orphanage grad Vadim celebrated his 18th birthday, and Lena asked him about his goals and vision for the future. He shared things he’d never shared with anyone, and said his plans included “getting to know God more and becoming a Christian.” On the last day, Lena said, “some teens approached the staff personally and asked deep spiritual questions.” After the desert of institutional life, orphanage graduates are hungry for relationship and meaning. Camp provides a safe place seek spiritual things.
English Language Camp
Our staff said this was “the best ESL camp yet.” Everyone had so much fun, and we see more than ever the way these weeks together strengthen our community. Director Andrey Pankyeyev said, “We had a great time with the youth. We had more than seventy show up and spend time with American friends, with Ukrainian leaders. That was a life-changing experience, and it brought some new feelings and emotions to the life of youth and young moms and their children.” We’re deeply grateful to five American volunteers who gave a week of their summer to help orphanage graduates learn English.
PS – check out this video scrapbook of a day at English Camp!
Many thanks to our 2019 Summer Camp donors, who made all of this possible.