Last summer, Camp Concordia chose to host a week-long LCMS Servant Event. For more than 35 years, thousands of Lutheran youth have participated in these events to grow in their faith through serving, sharing Christ, and developing relationships.
When 3 groups of high school students signed up to serve for a week at Camp Concordia, they didn’t realize how one day could make a difference in the life of a child. They arrived ready to continue revitalizing Camp Concordia through construction, service and repair. Part of their week included running a day camp for children of migrant workers.
Camp Director, Dr. Craig Oldenburg, began their time together by putting the students in family groups and guiding them through a process of working together, caring for each other, and examining their faith walk and purpose. Groups painted, repaired foot bridges and cleared away brush. Groups were prepared to teach, guide, and be in relationship with children of migrant workers. A Spanish teacher, Señora Maria, was asked if she would be willing to invite children from surrounding fields to participate, and she was more than glad to serve as liaison.
Migrant children are often bilingual and not only travel with their families, with the older ones caring for the younger ones, but often work in the fields too. Few attend a full year of school. Since they move often, they don’t have much and anything they receive gets left behind when they follow the harvest.
When we picked the children up, they had a lot of questions and were very excited. They were greeted with smiles and warm welcomes at camp. The children were introduced to their high school “buddies” and led to a lakeside fire ring for an opening devotion with singing. They knew Jesus was with them right from the start. Their buddies were part of family groups and each of the family groups participated in activities including archery, canoeing, swimming, crafts, and games.
The high school students were creative. They brought the children to the water and acted out the story of Jesus walking on the water. In family groups, children and their buddies shared about times in their life that were scary and how Jesus gives us peace in the storm—a peace that passes all understanding.
The day flew by quickly and, all too soon, the children found themselves back at the lakeside fire ring. To end the day, the high school students had planned a way to bless each of the children: as family groups gathered around them, they prayed over them and gifted them with a small gift. The children smiled and laughed, taking in all the sights and sounds. So much had happened that day that some of the children fell asleep on the ride home. This Camp Concordia experience was one they would never forget.
That evening, I received an email from Señora Maria saying, “Parents feel so blessed to have given their children the opportunity to go to a camp like this. Their children had so much fun. . . Thank you again for this opportunity to reach out to them.”
Camp Concordia was supported through grant dollars provided by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, and hopes to have high school groups sign up again to offer this opportunity to the children of migrant workers in 2018. For more information about Camp Concordia and how you can be involved, visit campconcordia.org.