AN INSIDER'S VIEW ON HOW HEARTLAND IS PREPARING FOR THIS INCREDIBLE CHRIST-FILLED SUMMER THROUGH WORK CAMP.
Campers and counselors begin each morning by partaking in morning watch, a Bible study and worship service in which the Lord's presence is truly felt. Starting the day by discussing scripture, campers and counselors can relate to one another and grow in their relationships with Jesus Christ. At Heartland, it is important for us to start each day in His word.
Some work campers shared what stood out to them during morning watch:
“I thought it was really inspiring how Joseph was able to forgive his brothers so easily.”
— Alex; Work Camper, 16
“Joseph said God had a plan for him. God has a plan for us despite all of the hardships we might encounter.”
— Gabby; Work Camper, 15
This verse inspired their feelings on morning watch:
"Now, do not be upset and do not be angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me ahead of you to preserve life!." Genesis 45:5
“We had everyone split up and read the passage in Genesis, but after a few of the kids were done, they were flipping through and looking for something more to read. It was so cool to see them have God and me time without being prompted to, it was their own curiosity that made them want to know more about God."
— Mackenzie; Counselor
Once the morning watch is over, the plans for the day move into action. After morning watch and breakfast, campers work from 10 am until noon. They do various projects from painting benches and staining the horseshoe pit backboards to cleaning out cabins and restocking the wood supply around camp. They then break for lunch, and then finish up their projects from 1 o'clock to 3:30. After their work is finished around 4 o'clock, they cool off in the pool until dinner at 5:30. The rest of the evening is filled with camp activities. Each day is something different. On Mondays, they strap in for high ropes and take on rock climbing walls and the zip-line. Tuesday nights are spent with the horses up at the corral for a trail ride. Wednesdays are spent learning the technique of shooting a sling shot, followed by fun at the archery range. On Thursday, the work camp teams don't work at all! Instead, they all travel over to Worlds of Fun where they're rewarded with a day full of amusement. Finally, Friday's are designated to giving the campers one last chance at enjoying their favorite camp activities such as horses, rock climbing, archery and zip-lining before they have to leave at 5 pm.
Work Camp is important to Heartland and important for our community.
“It's our responsibility to train up the next generation of leaders and servants within the church. What better way to do that than to provide our campers a safe place to model what it should look like? You learn what you live. It's hard to teach someone fully until they have the opportunity to practice it."
— Michael; Associate Executive Director
Our community finds that it is vital to making our campers feel loved and at home. Some of the ways that they help make Heartland feel fun and comfortable is by playing games throughout each day. All of the campers and counselors have their particular favorites and ways they see God in these games. It is in the debriefing of games at camp that campers realize how they are glorifying God while they're playing.
Some of the campers and counselors shared their favorite games and how they related that game back to God:
“Mission impossible is really fun. You have to find a way to overcome challenges and that's really relatable to being a Christian in today's world. You have to find the way to trust God to lead you through challenges.”
— Mason; Work Camper, 13
“Ship Island rocks because I get to yell really loud. You have to trust that the captain in the game is leading you correctly and in order to win you have to be a close listener, I think that's similar to how you have to trust that The Lord will guide you through life as long as you commit to earnestly listening to Him.”
— Kyle; Head Lifeguard
“Gaga ball is my favorite game because it's the most physical game we play and it's really fun. I like to think that my hands represent God in this game, and the ball represents sin and temptation. When I swat the ball away from me, it's kind of like how God shields me from worldly things that don't glorify Him.”
— Christian; Work Camper, 15
Something that we emphasize at Heartland is that no matter where you are or where you go you can worship Jesus in everything you do. The time splashing in the pool and the times spent around the campfire singing to the Lord are both pleasing to the Lord's eyes and ears. At the end of the day, no matter what we're doing, we all hope that each camper walks away knowing that God is on their side and talking to Him isn’t something to be afraid of.
We end each day at Heartland with what we call Vespers. This is time around the campfire singing and worshipping as one. We go over a passage in the Bible and discuss thoughts over what was read. Vespers is to lean on one another in Christ and continue to grow as a community. It is an intimate time with the body and the Lord. We intentionally start and end each day with the Word of God. We pray that this creates a lasting closeness between campers and the Lord even once they leave camp.
Here some of the campers and staff members share the things they have felt during Vespers:
“I've felt peace, mainly. At Vespers, everyone's together and we get to talk about what God has done for us throughout the day and everyday.”
— Shelby; Work Camper, 14
“Vespers is my favorite part of the day because you see these kids work hard without complaining all day and then you see them all come back together to give thanks for the ability to work and play. It's so cool to see them all come together to praise God every night.”
— Shelby; Media Management Director
“I really feel the love of God at Vespers because we're not separated and we all get to be together to hear God's word. When Matt speaks it really touches my heart. I love worshipping at Heartland.”
— Abby; Work Camper, 14
The purpose each summer at Heartland is to build relationships and impact lives for Jesus Christ. The brothers and sisters in Christ that make up our staff are thankful for the 2016 work campers that are helping us make this purpose a reality!
Written by: Shelby Atkison