August 1218 and August 1925, 2006
"Family Camp is the highlight of our family's year. Our boys mark the year Family Camp to Family Camp. As we packed to leave today, one of our sons said 'Only 51 more weeks til Family Camp! ' "
Home Improvement Ministries was privileged to partner with Camp Berea to keep the tradition going by offering two weeks of family camp in 2006: August 1218 and August 1925. Both camps were full and had waiting lists, which reflects that many have caught the vision for this wonderful tradition.
Camp Berea invited Home Improvement Ministries to use their facility for our third annual family camp as well as to direct Camp Berea's traditional week of family camp (which became director-less after their 2005 camp when Craig and Bonnie Ward resigned their long-held position.) It became apparent very quickly that it was an ordained union; HIM and Camp Berea are driven by like passions for strengthening families and marriages and for providing a well-run, effective program for doing so.
Directed by Paul and Virginia, who had spent the previous eight weeks in California running family camps at Campus by the Sea on Catalina Island, both weeks were a great combination of teaching and recreation that reinforced the theme "Find Us Faithful." Mike and Maggie Rowe of First Baptist Church in Wheaton, Illinois, were the adult resource couple for each week, and were well-received as they taught on various themes related to marriage and parenting. Additionally, the adults all spent time in small group studies each morning, applying passages from Joshua using study materials written by Paul. Testimonies given at the closing banquet each week affirmed that this venue was powerfully used in people's lives by God.
One of the most highly vaunted and deeply appreciated aspects of Family Camp is the college-age staff who work with all the kids age 18 and under. The majority of these cream-of-the-crop servants spent the summer serving with the Friesens at Campus by the Sea, so they were well-trained and at the top of their game for the two weeks at Camp Berea. Not only did they put together a great program for their students, but more importantly, they walk the talk. They model for their very impressionable charges what it means to be real and Christlike, which contributes to the long term value of the family camp experience.
Family Camp is truly a vacation with a purpose. The purpose is accomplished not just through the formal times of teaching, but also through great times of worship, free afternoons for a variety of recreational options, and evenings with fun all-family activities. Campers enjoyed the fully equipped waterfrontcomplete with a sandy beach, the "blob", a water slide, kayaks, sailboats, and water skiingas well as paintball, riflery, archery, softball, tennis, a rock wall, carpetball, "gaga", basketball, and crafts. The evenings included an evening of square/line/swing dancing and the riotous "Faithful Family Bingo" night. In addition, nine baptisms and a child dedication were performed during the two weeks, making family camp a time of establishing a variety of rich memories. In a myriad of ways, families were encouraged to experience how good it is to be together and to live out God's design for the family.
One family wrote, "We can not thank you enough for your willingness to share from your heart the love of Jesus... You all have great servant hearts and my family is blessed to be touched by the hand of God through you. God has blessed you and you in turn bless us!"
Plans are under way for Family Camps 2007, which will be held at Camp Berea August 1117 and August 1824. Only 50 weeks from now
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