The next four days of camp comprised our work week. It was a whirlwind of activity, each day full of work, fun, and socializing. Although there were new challenges and experiences each day, we generally had the same schedule.
Here’s a brief overview of our daily routine: An early morning bell rang at 6:30am, but most of the Grace group were early risers and enjoyed quiet mornings in the quad. Hearty breakfasts were served at 7:00, followed by Restore Chores and gathering supplies needed for the day. Groups were assigned different tasks, such as making meals, cleaning the bunkhouses, and gathering the garbage. Next in the schedule came “Personal Time With God,” or “PTWG.” Campers were encouraged to find a quiet spot to be in the Word, pray, and reflect. Following PTWG, all gathered for First Word to hear about the theme for the day, sing a song, and have a short devotion. Soon the teams were on the way to our job sites in the communities of the Silver Valley or at camp! We worked in our servant teams, so our Grace youth had the opportunity to work with many new friends.
Megan and Matthew worked together on servant team #3. They spent two days working at camp, stacking firewood, peeling logs, and sanding. The other two days were spent working at Roy and Karlene’s farm where they stacked more firewood, and worked in the yard and garden. Megan was the “guidebook” for her team, so she worked to make sure everyone had a job and remained motivated. She also reports that a highlight was getting to use a nail gun, which she used very effectively and without injury!
Leah and Nicole worked on servant team #1. They traveled each day about forty minutes to a Habitat for Humanity work site. They learned many useful skills, such as siding, taping and mudding. Another useful tidbit of knowledge they report is that it’s not good to drop hammers on people’s heads. Good advice, ladies. Nicole was the “fire starter” for the group and led devotions at the noon break and prayers at the beginning of the day. Leah was the “chow hound” and grew in her sandwich making abilities.
Audrey was on servant team #5. She worked two days in the valley at Karen’s house weeding in her yard, and two days at camp, mostly working on the tents for the new Ranch camp. They finished some tents and prepared the foundation for another tent, as well as continued the task of peeling logs. Audrey was the “quartermaster” and organized the supplies needed for each day. An enjoyable aspect for Audrey during the week was seeing how her team grew and coalesced together, and those who started out on Sunday night as strangers grew to be close friends by Friday morning.
Chris worked on servant team #4. He spent one day working at Jackie’s house doing yard work, two days working at Virginia’s house doing a lot of weed-whacking, and one day helping at a hardware store that was going out of business. One of Chris’s highlights was meeting Virginia and working for her. He described her as Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies, and it sounds like she had plenty of spunk. Chris has an entertaining wheelbarrow story; be sure you ask him about it. Chris worked as the “quartermaster” of his group and gathered supplies.
Aaron, Josh, and Nola worked with servant team #7. They worked all four days in the valley at Leta’s house and garage, covering brown paint with a light shade of green, which can still be seen on some of them today! This group of very motivated workers wanted to see the project through to completion, and as a result asked to go in early on Thursday. When a two-week painting job was completed in four days, the kids presented Leta with a Bible from the camp. The experience was emotional for both the kids and Leta, who spoke of her appreciation often and worked alongside the team. Josh was the “quartermaster” for the group, and Aaron led the devotions as the “firestarter.”
Kim worked with servant team #6 at camp for two days, and two days in the valley – one day at Wendell’s house weeding a garden and one day at Elsa’s house doing odd jobs around her yard. A highlight of working at camp was taking a piece of rocky, weedy ground and turning it into a blueberry patch.
After a day’s work was completed, teams made their way back to Shoshone for the afternoon activities. Popular stops on the drive back included moose viewing and ice cream eating. A specialty of the area is huckleberry ice cream, which is a refreshing treat at the end of a long work day. Back at camp, the kids met together in their leadership teams to debrief. Leadership teams were all the kids who had the same leadership role – all the quartermasters, fire starters, etc. They went over their day and discussed tactics to try for the next day as they grew as leaders. Often they had a team-building game or used the challenge course to focus on teamwork.
Recreation time came next, which gave the kids some flexibility to chose their activities. Because of the warm weather, tubing in the river was a popular yet cold choice. Since the Coeur D’ Alene River is fed from snow melt further upstream, tubers could be heard exclaiming as they felt the frigid waters for the first time, but by the end of the tubing adventure they had either acclimated to the temperature or were so cold they could no longer emote. Rock wall climbing and the zip line were for the more adventurous. We also enjoyed shooting hoops and just hanging out in the sun enjoying the outdoors, chatting, visiting, and soaking up the sights and smells of the north Idaho woods.
Supper was always a hearty and filling meal, which tasted even better after a hard day’s work. Next came “all camp run around,” during which the kids ran around playing a game, laughing, and being silly. Afterward, we all filed into the chapel to watch a slide show of the day’s work. It was inspiring to see pictures of the projects the other teams had worked on. We’re looking forward to sharing some of those with you upon our return.
Next we gathered our supplies for the speaker and met in the quad to learn and think more about the theme for the day. The theme for the week was “Splish Splash,” based on John 4:14, “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed the water I give them will become in them a well of water springing up to eternal life.” During Sunday night’s opening we discussed the verse, focusing on God’s love as a “whoever” love for everyone. The next days used this water theme to discuss different aspects of our relationship with God. On Monday the object lesson was a water bottle. We talked about the thirst everyone has for God, and how He alone, and not the things of the world, can quench that thirst. Tuesday’s object was an anchor, which represents God’s love in the cross and the gift of eternal life as anchors of our faith. Wednesday’s speaker and Bible study used the life saver to represent how God saves us and keeps us surrounded with His love through difficult times. Thursday’s focus was serving as disciples with a servant’s heart and was illustrated with a paddle.
After speaker time, most donned long pants, jackets and bug spray to spend time worshiping at campfire. Each night was in a different location and included songs and a short talk, also focusing on our theme for the day. Wednesday’s nights campfire was especially meaningful for the kids. It was designed to be a quiet, reflective time for prayer and singing. Worshiping God next to a mountain stream, lined with ancient trees and beautiful wildflowers brings a special joy and peace to those in attendance. Some favorite songs from the week included “Blessed Be” and “WTL.” The sounds of many of those songs have filled our van today, and have brought a smile to this driver’s face. After campfire, the trading post was open for campers to purchase t-shirts and other souvenirs. A popular item was Thomas Kemper soda, which could be enjoyed in several flavors. As the trading post was closing, we rounded up the Grace youth for our family time. All shared their stories from the day and what they were learning. This was a great time for our youth to connect and process. And then it was time for bed. As one young reporter noted, “I slept like a bag of rocks!” The morning seemed to come earlier each day, and our beds seemed more comfortable each night.
All too soon it seemed the week came to a close. Friday morning we enjoyed a breakfast together before meeting one last time as a big group. We made our good-byes to the new friends we had made. All were slow to get in their vehicles and finish saying good-bye, knowing that a very special week had come to a close, one that changed the way we see the world and how we can live out our calling as God’s servants.