Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A Campful Summer

Bible camp was a major influence in my path to faith in the Lord. That is why we are so thankful that we have the opportunity here to be involved in Bible camp with the youth of Belgium and the Netherlands as well as church members and families. As we returned to Europe we were just in time for several challenging and amazingly encouraging weeks of camp. 
Just two days after returning from our travels in the US, we were headed down to the hills and forests of the Ardennes for our first week: Jongerenkamp. This is the week for those 15 and older. Scott was to share camp director duties with two young men learning to be directors, but Ivo ended up welcoming his second child to this world – a much more important event compared to camp. 
That meant that Scott shared directing and teaching duties with Gijs Bardoel. On the mornings that Scott had the lessons, Gijs was director and vice-versa. Talking about the reliability of the scriptures led to wonderful and open conversations with the campers. It was so encouraging to see how everyone not only struggled honestly with the information presented, but that they were also willing to ask questions. 
Every evening we gathered around a fire outside and discussed difficult questions that came up during the day from the lessons, or just questions that popped up in normal life (like how to deal with a broken leg just before planning on helping with a week of camp). Everything was on the table. This was a group willing to consider and reconsider, willing to listen and willing to help one another. 
The end of the week was bittersweet as usual after such an encouraging time together. Shirley and Scott were thankful to have a week to recover from travels and a week of camp – even if the week at home meant temperatures well above 95 degrees inside the house. We just moved very slowly and tried to survive; not many have air conditioning here. Down at camp the Benjamins (8-11 year-olds), directed by Paul Brazle, also had to survive.  
The next week saw Scott at Teen camp (for 12-14 year-olds) teaching and sharing directing duties with Pieter Good from Ghent. As with the earlier week, a good team is invaluable. Although there were fewer campers at this week, the lesson material was challenging. We went on the travels of Paul through Acts to see what it should mean for us as followers of Jesus. Each day we actually traveled and discussed what we read in the text. 
The third week for us  (4th total week of camp) was Family camp, directed by Paul Brazle, and we were starting to feel the drain on our bodies. So we slept at home and drove down to camp in the morning (about 50 minutes away) to follow the lessons. Scott brought two days of lessons as well on the Gospel. This camp week is an amazing grouping of families, singles, young people, kids and even some dogs. Christians from various congregations and non-Christians were all there to hear what the good news really is. 
Although camp is open all year to all the congregations, the formal camp weeks are four weeks in July and August. But in September we also hold a special day: Family Day. This year it was organized by the congregation in Maastricht. Our colleague, Ruud, together with Gijs from Jongerenkamp, brought two lessons on Colossians 3. Scott led the children’s class and Shirley with the ladies from Maastricht took care of lunch, coffee and cookies. We welcomed people from all over Belgium and the Netherlands, including our French-speaking brothers and sisters for a truly family day. 
This coming weekend will see the end of the camp season: an evaluation and planning meeting. Here we evaluate the past weeks and look ahead to the coming season (starting with Fall camp at the end of October). Ardennes Bible Camp has been influencing people since 1965 and we are so thankful that we can be a part of this history. 
If you are interested in seeing pictures of the various camp weeks, check out our picture site, but you can also go to the official camp website (in Dutch) where we have tried to gather some of the pictures from various photographers through the years (including some really oldies but goodies).