As the 7, 8 and 9 year-olds pulled into Camp CUMCITO for Junior camp this year, the buses were greeted by all the workers, cheering their arrival.
A favorite thing to do at camp is playing in the swimming pool. First campers must pass a swim test and then they can jump off the diving board. On these hot, summer days the pool is a refreshing break. After swimming each day, the kids get to pick out a candy bar or chips and a drink from the canteen.
Activity rotations bring variety to their days— such as cabin devotions, outdoor tag games, four square, playground time and disc golf. In the evenings they play water wars with water guns and water balloons. Another great way to cool off!
The kitchen staff at camp provides approximately 110 campers and staff with three square meals a day— and the food is delicious!
The campers made s’mores around the camp fire, they climbed a rock wall in the gymnasium, play Gaga Ball and made crafts each day.
The lake, located on the grounds of Camp CUMCITO, is always a lot of fun! There is a HUGE blue and yellow trampoline in the middle of the lake. All campers must put on life jackets before jumping off the dock and swimming out to the trampoline. It was a blast. The kids also took turns trying to knock each other off of the battle barge (a floating island in the middle of the lake).
During the day, the campers spent chapel time in small groups where they asked a lot of great questions like, “How do we know God is talking to us?” and “What would God do if Lucifer repents?” and “Why would God send his son if he knew he was going to die?” Their leader assured them that the Bible has answers to lots of their questions.
They learned of how David in the Bible loved God so much and that they should love God like David did. The campers learned that they all play a part in God’s great plan even though we can’t see the big picture.
The campers made new friendships and grew close to their counselors. Many made plans to get together after they get home from camp.
Friday was the carnival, where campers participate in all kinds of games— like a cupcake eating contest and a dunk booth!
It is rewarding for the camp staff to know that they are impacting God’s kingdom by working hard in this ministry. It is fun to invest in the lives of these kids. It is a special gift that these children let us into their hearts. It is truly beautiful to see the body of Christ working in harmony. Camp is a perfect picture of staff members doing their part for a common goal. Everyone has their individual jobs and when they work together, it creates a symphony of cohesion and bonds us together.
On Sunday when the staff arrived for training, we found out 42 campers were coming on Monday. On Monday the number went to 36. How do you do “camp” with so few campers when we are used to 80 or 90? Well, as soon as the 24 girls and 12 boys arrived— IT JUST FELT LIKE CAMP! Having the kids here immediately made the dining hall noisy with staff and campers getting to know each other while eating lunch.
Our theme this whole summer is “WORTHY” from Rev. 4:11. Monday night our teacher Ranger Ron talked about athletes who are considered GOATS – people who are considered to be “The Greatest of All Time.” He then presented JESUS as THE GREATEST. He also did lessons on creation, people who did/do mighty things, Jesus SAVES and Jesus can do mighty things through ME. On Friday during cabin chapel times the chapel staff opened it up for questions. It was a sweet and safe time of fellowship.
The schedule was significantly different this year. The campers pretty much dropped and unpacked their bags and were off to their first rotation of activities. The activities included a rec activity, a chapel activity, crafts, pool and free time. The schedule kept the kids moving and also kept the cabins separated because of COVID. We wore masks when inside buildings and even when singing songs at chapel. That did not stop joyful noise from being lifted up!
We were still able to have optional activities after dinner which were chosen by cabin. Many of the campers were new to camp. They were tentative at first and it was fun to observe them gain confidence as the week went on. They tried and learned to make a fire for s’mores, camping out, archery and the climbing wall. Most would get part way up the wall and come right back down. Then on the next try they went a little higher. A few made it all the way to the top!
The boys and girls had separate afternoon time to do all the lake activities. The trampoline and the battle barge were by far the most popular activities. Learning to do the perfect ‘blob’ took some practice and maintaining balance to become the king of the barge was awesome to see.
The carnival is always the ending highlight of camp and it was again this year. However, there was an additional surprise after shower time. Fireworks! It was a surprise to most of the staff and to all of the campers. What a way to end camp!
A few weeks ago, boys and girls (9-16 years old) from our Vanderberg Youth Center (VYC) arrived at Camp CUMCITO in Warsaw, taking 2 days there before heading on south to Branson.
Upon arrival, it was time for some swimming! Each child was fitted for life jackets before we drove over to Long Shoal swimming area where there were lots of chicken fights and old fashion dunkings. Our time at the lake was cut short by a large black cloud that rolled in full of rain. We headed back to camp to change for dinner and afterwards finished our first day making Smores over a campfire.
After a hot breakfast prepared by camp staff and our interns, we headed out early for a tour at College of the Ozarks. They were awesome hosts and tour guides. We started at the military memorial where the service and sacrifice of men, women, dogs and families are recognized. Next, we visited the basket weaving shop, old grist mill, and a stained-glass shop where our campers learned how college students earn wages towards paying for their own education. Next, we were off to Look-Out Point and the cow barn where students enjoyed petting the baby cows and kittens.
Our next stop was the Creation Museum for a personal guided tour that went along with our focus for the week on creation, where students got to pet giant hissing cockroaches!
Dinner was at Olive Garden and was a first for all of our students. They loved it all, especially the hot bread sticks!
We arrived to the Sight and Sound Theater to experience the live on-stage production of ‘Jesus’, which was amazing! The theater was gracious to donate the tickets so our students, staff and interns could attend this moving presentation. The children’s emotion ranged from lots of laughs to few tears as their attention was glued to the live action the whole time. They really truly enjoyed it. One student’s take away was the realization of how Jesus agonized over His mission in the garden the night before His crucifixion. Afterwards we drove back to Warsaw for a late bedtime.
Our VYC students slept in till 10am the next morning, all worn out from our busy and active schedule. We ate breakfast, packed and loaded the bus, cleaned up and headed out. We visited the Harry S. Truman visitor center before leaving town.
This was a great fun-filled, memory-making trip for these kids— exhausting but so worth it! We are so grateful for the donated tickets and are looking forward to repeating this trip with a new group next year.