I spent a draining, fun, crazy 4 days at Camp Hope at Hidden Falls Ranch last weekend. Camp Hope is a camp that evolved from the Angel Tree Camps I’ve had the chance to help with over the past several years. It’s a camp put on primarily by CityChurch for kids with parents in prison and other kids living in difficult circumstances who need time a way for some fun adventures, to be loved on, and to hear about Jesus. About fifteen Mission 2540 kids were apart of the group. Over all, there were 120 campers ages 4-11 having a blast from Thursday through Sunday. Yes, it was crazy.
I stayed with the 4th grade boys (along with my good pals Casey Phillips and Josh Heavin and a CityChurch high schooler named DeAndre), plus did magic tricks and spoke during the 2 chapels a day. Chapels were a blast. Donnie Lane has a real gift at doing funny voices and puppets. So we did the teaching together – him as a goofy little camper puppet named Nugget with me as myself. Basically, I taught Nugget the lessons, and the kids paid MUCH closer attention than they would have had it just been me or Donnie talking at them. So it was very effective. Plus it was lots of fun because Donnie was pretty hilarious.
This is my view during chapel. Yes, we were packed in like sardines. And yes, by Sunday morning the smell was terrible.
Here’s my purple boys crew. This is one of the few times they were all in the same place and standing halfway still…
Hidden Falls is located on the rim of Palo Duro Canyon, so we were able to do lots of great hiking and exploring. We made a few of the kids cry on this one, since we had to scale a couple of pretty steep walls and trail. It was kind of scary, but lots of fun.
Here’s Michael riding a horse for the very first time. In addition to horseback riding, the kids got to do rock climbing, a zipline, archery, swimming, crafts and other fun games. It was just great for the kids to be able to get out and escape the difficulty and pain of their daily lives.
Saturday night was a really powerful night. After roasting S’mores around the campfire, my friends Mallory and Spencer Cockrell came out to lead the kids in some worship, and then I led the kids through a special prayer time where they got in the presence of Jesus and dealt with stuff. I heard many heartbreaking stories from my boys about abuse, loss, imprisoned dads, nightmares, worry, and other things kids who live in poverty deal with daily. It’s unbelievable the terrible circumstances so many boys and girls live in right here in Amarillo. We gave them the opportunity to hand over their worries, fears, sorrows, family troubles, etc. to Jesus and experience His incredible love. Broken little hearts were made better that night. It was an amazing and beautiful thing to see. It really made all the craziness and exhausition completely worth it. The kids came away with Hope. Which is kind of the point, I think.
The kids can’t wait to go back. I told them I’m looking forward to next year too, but I need the entire year to rest…