On July 24-27, Mission 2540 was able to send 11 of our youth to camp with the youth of my church to Extreme Camp near Tyler. I wasn’t able to go, unfortunately, since the timing of the camp coincided with my brother-in-law’s wedding in Tennessee. As a result, I don’t have pictures, but you can trust me when I say that the kids had an amazing time. They’re still talking about it, and not just about the fun stuff. There was some actual life-change that happened in several of them. So for those of you who gave and helped sponsor – thank you!
The next week, I took 27 of our kids (3rd-5th grade) along with about 15 kids from Downtown Women’s Center to Agape Camp at Hidden Falls Ranch. It’s a free camp put on by HFR that we’ve done during Spring Break in the past. Their leadership and I decided we ought to try it out in the summer, and it was a huge success. I’m so thankful for their staff and all the hard work they put in. It was 4 days of fun, heat, and exhaustion, but it was definitely worth it.
Since it was over 100 degrees every day, we spent a lot of time in the pool. Which was very cold. But none of us cared…
Hidden Falls Ranch sits on the edge of Palo Duro Canyon, so the scenery is amazing. I decided that, despite the heat, we should take all the kids on a big hike through the canyon on Wednesday morning. It was a really tough hike with some steep climbs. A bunch of kids whined about the heat and difficulty, and few accused me of trying to kill them. But I think we had a fun time on the hike anyway. At least I did. Regardless, it was a great adventure for kids who never leave their neighborhood.
The kids got to eat 3 huge meals a day, which was a really big deal for some of them. We take our ability to eat healthy food for granted sometimes, and to see the excitement in kids eyes that they get to have seconds (or thirds) is amazing, and heartbreaking. We also had our share of fun in the dining room. In the second picture above, Ishimaue is in the process of winning the Sriracha sauce eating contest. If you didn’t know, it’s a really hot sauce for Asian food, and we had the boys see how many spoonfuls they could intake without drinking water. Ishimaue destroyed everyone with 10 spoonfuls. Impressive.
Each night we gathered around the campfire to worship, and I spoke for a few minutes and shared about the love of Jesus. The last night, my good friend Jody Wilson (pictured above) came out and we were able to minister to the kids and get them into the presence of the Lord. The campfires make all the heat and exhaustion and whiny kids totally worth it.
It was a great week and I could post at least a hundred more pictures, but hopefully these give you an idea. I had great help, not just from the staff, but from some great youth who came with me. Jacob Biggers and Caleb Hays, two high school age sons of a couple of my board members, endured time with some of our crazy boys. And I brought two of our North Grand Villas high school girls – Tiffani and Quinn – and they did an amazing job. I was so proud to see two of the girls we’ve been ministering to for years step and out start leading. Also, I got great help from two amazing ladies, Suzanne Schroder and Brenda Meeks. They’re both loving grandmothers, and think of things like putting sunscreen and bugspray on kids. So I’m very grateful they were there!