Day Camp Around the World
by Joanie Yonker, Executive Assistant
“Keeping the Path Clear to the Cross” is happening in more and more exciting and unusual ways at Warm Beach Camp. When people think of Warm Beach Camp, what do they think of? Yes, camp, of course!
Day Camp is one of the staples of Warm Beach Camp’s summer programs. It’s been around for years and is still a very viable way for reaching children, grades K-6. “Day Camp is one of the most front line evangelism tools used here at Warm Beach,” comments Laurie Fertello, Youth Camp Director. Children from all walks of life and age brackets come to Day Camp to learn about God and His love for them and to have fun, fun, fun!
However, Day Camp at Warm Beach is not the only vehicle that is being used to clear the path to the cross and reach people who need the Lord. For the past two years, Warm Beach has seen many adults with special needs come and enjoy Day Camp, too. When Leah Merklinghaus, mother of a special needs adult, joined forces with Laurie Fertello, a whole new world of ministry opened up to Warm Beach Camp, and the Special Friends Day Camp was born.
This ministry began with one Special Friends Day Camp the first year. This year WBC is offering three camps. The desire is to grow to five sessions per summer, allowing 40 or 50 special friends to come to camp each week.
Wow! What a beautiful group of campers we see each week. These Special Friends Camps were started to minister to adults with special needs, but, in reality, the ministry has gone both ways. These wonderful campers have found their way into the hearts and lives of the counselors and staff who serve them in ways that were never pictured.
Because Special Friends Camp pairs each camper with a counselor, the number of campers that could be served has been kept low because of counseling staff available. This year a sister camp, SAMBICA, contacted Warm Beach to see if there were any needs for additional counselors for several weeks. THERE WERE! The exact weeks their staff are available to us are the exact weeks we need the additional counselors for Special Friends Camp. God NEVER works in a vacuum. He is always a step ahead of us. We praise God for His gracious blessing and provision.
These two “Day Camps” at Warm Beach Camp are truly a blessing. However, another new and exciting Day Camp opportunity sprang to life last year. Warm Beach was asked to take Day Camp to Africa. Sister Connection, an organization working with widows and orphans in war-torn Burundi, needed a program for the children while their mothers attended a training conference.
So five staff went to Burundi and put on a Day Camp. We discovered that children are children, wherever they may be in the world. These kids responded to the games and lessons that were given, and when all was said and done, 80 children had given their hearts to the Lord. WOW! All because Warm Beach Camp was not afraid to step out of the norm and follow the leading of the Lord. The path to the Cross looked a little different, but it certainly led straight to the Cross for these 80 children!!
And so we realized, it IS possible to take the Day Camp model to other locations. One vision that Laurie has had for YEARS is to have a Day Camp for Hispanic children. As she prayed about it, the Lord was already at work at Day Creek Chapel. This rural church outside of Sedro Woolley has been bringing children to Day Camp at Warm Beach for years. Pastor Rick Miles began the discussion with Laurie to see if there was a way Warm Beach could bring Day Camp to their kids, instead. So, this year, our counselors and volunteers will be going to Day Creek Chapel to hold a Day Camp for Grades 3-5 on Pastor Rick’s property. The majority of these children are Spanish speaking. This is just one more way the Lord is moving to reach children around the world.
Whether it is Warm Beach Camp or Burundi or Day Creek, the Lord is moving in the hearts of His children to bring the message of Jesus and His love to the world. Nancy Nelson said it best: It is “Kids 2 Camp AND Camp to kids.”