Summer Bible Camps on the American Indian Field
All school-aged children have one thing in common—they are constantly counting the days until the next holiday or summer vacation. Then, inevitably, when a long break or summer arrives, parents immediately hear the dreaded words, “I’m bored! When is school going to start again?” Restless children need activities to keep summer boredom away. On the American Indian Field, summer Bible camps are filling that vital need.
Southwest Indian Ministries Center in Peoria, Arizona, is home to several summer camps for Native American children and youth. Some of the kids live in communities where drugs, gangs, and violence are prevalent, so these weeklong camps are a positive influence in their lives. Camp not only provides a healthy relief from boredom but creates an atmosphere where the children are exposed to Jesus every day. In one word, these camps are “unique.”
“Usually you think of a camp being out in the woods or the mountains,” missionary Sandy Anderson stated. “But ours is in the suburbs of Phoenix.”
This different location gives campers the opportunity to experience fun events like the zoo, circus, baseball games, water parks, and story hour at the local library. In addition to these special activities, campers enjoy devotional times with singing and Bible lessons, crafts, games, sports, cooking and computer classes, and working with puppets.
Each summer about 120 kids attend four different camps, which are divided by age ranges. Many campers return each year, allowing their week at camp to build a foundation on which missionaries can reach out to the campers and their families throughout the year. Winter weekend camps are also offered to help revitalize the children and their relationships with God.
“I would safely say that about one-third of the campers make first-time commitments or take some step in their spiritual lives during camp,” shared Sandy Anderson.
In addition to return campers, the AIF staff has watched campers grow up and step into new roles through the Leaders In Training Experience (LITE). Through this program, kids go through training and then serve as junior counselors and helpers. In 2012, five LITE leaders served as helpers during the camp season.
“I want kids to know that camp and Jesus changed my life and made me a better person,” said one LITE leader.
Although the campers obviously enjoy swimming, taking field trips into the city, and eating ice cream, they also understand the real reason for summer camp. Camper testimonies include:
“I learned that God is a forgiving God.”
“I learned that Jesus died on the cross for us.”
“As the days went by, I learned more and more about why Jesus died for me, for my sins, for everything.”
PRAY: Please pray that the campers will have open hearts to hear about Jesus. Pray also that camp volunteers will love and care for the kids during these special times together.
GIVE: Some families are not able to cover the cost of camp for their children. A donation of $150 will send a child to camp for one life-changing week. Help send a child to summer Bible camp today! You may also send a check, payable to World Gospel Mission with account #23749 in the memo line, to:
World Gospel Mission
P.O. Box 948
Marion, IN 46952-0948
GO: Visit www.wgm.org/go for a list of ways you can serve on the American Indian Field.