Our Polish family camp was held in the city of Karpacz. It reminds me of Banff, Alberta – an alpine tourist destination with fun things to see and do. It offers a perfect getaway for folks seeking a family vacation, and it provides a wonderful place to host our camp.
The word camp often conveys the impression of being rustic – tents and outhouses in the woods, cooking over an open fire and sleeping under the stars. That’s a far cry from our family camp – it was held in a hotel. Granted, it wasn’t a 5-star facility but it was totally adequate for our purposes.
Our days were packed from beginning to end. We began with a staff prayer meeting at 7:15. Breakfast followed – rolls, sliced meats, cheeses, tomatoes, cucumbers, and sometimes yogurt. Cold cereal – Cocoa Puffs – was served with hot milk. And after breakfast, we enjoyed a short chapel with praise and worship songs in both English and Polish before dismissing for our daily English reading class.
The English reading class can be likened to a Bible study.
Adults and teenagers split into small groups where they read Scripture based on Jesus’ parables. Our job was not to teach the study. Rather, it was to facilitate learning and discussion. Many of our campers had never read a Bible and they’d certainly never heard that a personal relationship with God was possible through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. They’d been taught by their priest that salvation is possible only through good works and that he alone provides access to God (for payment). This class was the nuts-and-bolts of camp because it revealed truth to those who had never heard it.
An English grammar class followed. Campers were divided into groups according to their English-speaking competency. Gene and I taught a group of high-school students. They loved playing games such as Uno to learn the English words for colors and numbers. One day during class we walked to a nearby store to buy ice cream treats. Enroute, they saw and named objects for every letter in the English alphabet. Ie: ‘d’ was for dog, ‘t’ was for tractor, etc.
Lunch followed the morning classes. Then came the afternoon schedule – crafts or free time for families to spend a couple of hours sightseeing.
At 5 o’clock, we ran two workshops (parenting and addictions) and an optional class to practice conversational English. Most campers attended the workshops and absorbed the information like human sponges. After supper, we played group games or enjoyed skits and then settled into chapel with more singing, two staff testimonies and an object lesson for the kids. By then it was 9:30 P.M. Most folks were tired, but they weren’t ready to shut ‘er down yet. They put their little ones to bed and then showed up for the marriage workshop that Gene and I taught. Thirty people – four nights in a row – attended these classes that ran for an hour. In 11 years of fulltime Christian camping ministry in Canada, I’ve never seen that kind of hunger here.
And so went a typical day at camp. Hours and hours of interaction with campers made it possible to build relationships that our career staff will follow up. With email and Facebook technology, we can further those relationships ourselves, too.
Anyone interested in coming with us next year? Actually, we could use volunteers for camps in Slovakia, the Ukraine and Romania as well as in Poland. The harvest is great but the laborers are few.