I am embarrassed to admit just how long this post has been sitting in the draft stage… nonetheless, here’s the previously promised Camp Brittney post!
We’ve had an exciting couple of weeks here at the mission since we opened back up for 2013. On day 1, we got news from the director at Camp Brittney that they were very excited to have our kids there for summer camp the following week. Wait, what? Our kids? Upon hearing this, Laura and I were a little confused as we weren’t actually aware that our kids were going to camp the following week. There had been talk of dates and spots available, but this was quite a surprise to us. A good surprise. Chapin UMC had already paid for and arranged everything for 40 of our kids to go, so the clock was ticking to get everyone ready for it!
Luckily, Laura and I already had a running list of kids age 7 to 11 that had not yet been to camp. The unfortunate part was that the mission had just opened back and hardly any kids were there to talk to about camp. As I started sending emails and getting all the details sorted out, Laura took off into Bajo with her list to seek the kids out and tell them about camp. The idea of an overnight summer camp is foreign to a lot of people here. Some of these kids have never travelled outside of this city. Parents have often never been separated from their children for an extended amount of time. Believe it or not, it takes some convincing for the parents to let them go. At this point, I was quoting the Hunger Games in my mind, “May the odds be ever in our favor!”
For the next couple of days, we were scarmbling to get forms filled out. The excitement was in the air though. Every kid that was on our list would let me or Laura or Andrew know, with great pride, that they were going to camp the next week. I’ve mentioned Stefren in a post before about funny things. That crazy little guy packed his suitcase 5 days early. That’s the kind of excitement I’m talking about! I was able to get Dulce, one of my most favorite little girls and my sponsor child, on the list at the last minute. Her family had spent some time in Guanacaste visiting family recently and weren’t here when we made the list. I saw her at church that Sunday and asked her mom and dad if she could go to camp the next day. I gave them all the details. Luckily, her dad was standing right there and able to help convince the mom. She nervously said yes. When I walked back down to the church a little later, Dulce sat with her best friend Anny playing on the sidewalk. As soon as I turned the corner, she told me how excited she was to go to camp. We were also able to send Valeria, who I’ve also mentioned in previous posts. She´s unbelievably smart and goes to the best bilingual school in this city. It’s very pricey, but Valeria is the first child to receive a full academic scholarship to go there. As you can imagine, this means she is the poorest child in her class – scratch that – in her entire school. Laura came to me when we were finalizing the list and asked what I thought about Valeria going to summer camp for a second time as she had already been last year. We had already filled as many spaces as possible with newbies so I wasn’t opposed to the idea. But Laura felt the need to explain her reasoning to me. She wanted to make sure that Valeria got to do something really cool this summer knowing that when she returned back to school in February, her classmates will have travelled to the US, Europe, or other amazing places and done amazing things. After all, these are all of the extremely wealthy kids of this area. She just didn’t want Valeria to feel any less special than anyone else in her class. I certainly wasn’t against her going before, but now I too insisted she go. This was important for her.
Monday rolled around and everyone was ready for camp. The bus pulled up and all the children were waiting with their parents for their name to be called. Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, neighbors, volunteers and our whole staff came out to see the kids off. Hugs all around, smiles as the kids eagerly loaded the bus, a “good luck” pat on the back to Jenny, and a sigh of relief on Laura and I’s part once they were finally off!
While I didn’t go to camp myself, I saw all the pictures and got the scoop from Jenny on the week. There were definitely some funny stories to come out of that week. I learned the Spanish word “sonambulos” which means sleepwalkers. That will give you an idea of just how much fun Jenny had chaperoning that trip. There is a good size swimming pool at the camp and that was a hugely popular activity. Most parents were apprehensive about the pool since a lot of kids don’t know how to swim. After all, where would they learn that at? We live in the mountains here in San Ramon. So an added bonus of camp is that some of the kids even learned how to swim that week. They were fed breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Eating 3 meals a day? That in itself was a highlight for many of the kids. Not to mention, they got to go back for seconds, or thirds in some cases. Imagine being able to feast like that for a week, eating enough that you were not just full, but a tad past that. That full, satisfied feeling is a luxury that most of us take for granted. The camp counselors did all kinds of stuff with the kids from skits to games to small group bible study to large group worship. You name it, they did it.
As to be expected, the kids loved every moment of it. I loved looking through the pictures from their week at camp. Pictures rarely do things justice, but if that kind of joy radiates from the pictures, I can only imagine what kind of joy I would have seen in the kids eyes had I been there in person. If you want to see the Camp Brittney website and gain insight as to why they do what they do, check out the link below. It’s a pretty neat story!