Open Elementary and Jr. High camps
2020 has been one for the books. With our winter season ending 2 weeks early, on March 17th, and schools, businesses, and most of the world shutting down. We didn't know what God had in store. Everything we were hearing caused so much fear and God called us to stand firm and trust in Him. After prayer and fasting the Lord led us to a theme of faith this summer.
In late spring, we had parents of kids who come every year, emailing and calling to see if we were opening, but we did not know until June 15th (when Wyoming entered phase 3 of reopening) how or if it was going to happen. So we decided, for the first time ever, to have our open camps back to back to start the summer.
It was nothing short of a miracle that we were able to open with basically no legal restrictions, only upgraded cleaning procedures. For many of the kids it was the first time getting to see their friends since they had left school for spring break. The joy they experienced cannot be expressed in words. The amount of pain and fear experienced through March, April and, May by these kids just poured out. They longed for some sense of "normal" and for some personal relationships. The testimonies are numerous for radical life changes and connections with counselor, but a few great examples are below.
"Camper Sierra had an especially tough time. Several of her close friends were not able to make it to camp, but I was so blessed to have her in my cabin and small group. I wasn't sure I would be able to do it, but I got a smile the first night. My first win. There were a couple times Sierra had to separate herself from the large group and all I could do was sit, listen, and encourage (and it was hard). She told me all about the bullying she had received and how she had not seen her friends since spring break and how 'annoying her brother was', but it was worth it. We hung in there together and then the final night was the apex of the week for our cabin. That final night during small group, my co-counselor and I were able to walk her and FOUR OTHER girls in our cabin through “Romans’ Road” and (in the midst of tears) they all gave their lives to Christ for the first time." - Summer Staff Member
In a different cabin the same week, camper Breanna came all the way from Chicago. Her dad moved to Laramie in May for a new job and miraculously heard about us. It was Breanna’s first year ever to go to camp and it was the first time to see anyone else but her family in months. Two days later one of the summer staff was able to follow up, because dad, Breanna, and her sister Lindsey all showed up to church. They were able to get plugged in.
"I have been a camp counselor each summer for several years, but this year was a whole new level. Every boy in my cabin was acting big and tough the first few nights with walls up acting "like boys", but by the 3rd night it changed. I got to hear my whole group share one after the other about their fears and struggles. The next day, one really opened up about his parents divorce. It was a topic that we talked about in training, but it was a moment I will never forget. He told me and my co-counselor about how this year had been the worst of his life and how his mom had moved out but he didn't know where he would go after camp. He cried and we talked for over an hour. We missed a couple activities, but by that night he was different. He worshiped like he never had before. All his shyness was gone and he fired up the rest of the week."
- Summer Staff Member