We started the day with anticipation and excitement as we started the drive out to Ruby Ranch for our first day of camp! As prepared as you think you are, there is always a bit of apprehension knowing that the kids are coming… how will they receive us, how will the stations run, will everything come together? These questions and others flooded our minds, but many of them vanished as the first kids started to arrive.
However, they didn’t arrive in usual fashion. Normally, we have a line of kids waiting at the gate for camp to start. But we found out there were some challenges in communication (and likely approval with kids missing school) so it was more of a slow trickle with kids arriving. So right away we knew we would be on Nica time for our first day of camp. Finally, about an hour after our posted start time, we were rolling with our introductions and getting the kids into their groups.
Based on the team size being limited this year, we knew we couldn’t tackle a huge camp. But we had a great group of just over 30 ready to start their first day of camp. A good many of the kids are returners, which is always a blessing, to be able to continue to build on existing relationships. But we were even more excited to see a new group of kids that would be able to experience Ruby Ranch for the first time.
We launched into our schedule – sports, music, arts/crafts, English and Bible were on deck and the rotations began. Watching our students lead their respected areas is always a great joy for me as their pastor. It is a true picture of the body of Christ at work – each one working with their gifts and abilities to make camp happen. All of our students have been planning and preparing to lead their areas and now they were doing it!
The kids warmed up quickly to us and to the classes. From playing soccer to designing a backpack to learning some English to singing songs together – the Ranch was abuzz with activity. Part of camp is also blessing these kids with a hot lunch. After lunch, we invite kids to stay post-camp for some free-range fun at the Ranch. As you could imagine, most stayed with us the rest of the afternoon. This gives our team even more time to invest in the kids while riding bikes, coloring, making bracelets or playing on the playground.
During the post-camp time also means time for construction. It was back over to the waterslide for those not playing – to start leveling the ground, filling sandbags, installing the new posts and widening one of the pathways… which means cantera stones. For those of you who have followed us before, you know our special relationship with cantera stones. These huge stones are hewn from rock and comprise most building projects and pathways here in Nicaragua. They are a beast to move and we have lost count, but in our 15 years we estimate we have moved, placed and laid around 5,347 cantera stones. But who’s counting?
God gave us beautiful weather today for camp and for construction. We rejoice in His provision and blessing on our team. This team is really working as a unified and focused group. We are excited for day 2 of camp tomorrow! Please continue to pray for us and the kids we are ministering to!