After our campers left, we also had to say goodbye once again to our wonderfully amazing helpful insane Latvian leaders from the week. My co-leader Laura was somebody who I had met last year at camp, but never got the opportunity to really know until this year when we were assigned cabin 2. Laura, you are just plain awesome. I am in awe of your love of the Lord, of these girls, of life, and I can 100% say that Sarah (our other co-leader from Virginia) could not imagine this week without you. You translated for us, took charge when you felt you needed to, let us take charge when we felt we needed to, and you just plain killed it with our girls. Everything you did and the way you lived you every day in front of them didn’t go unnoticed. You are truly a woman of God and I am so #blessed to be a Bumblecat with you.
WOW I was so blessed this week by Ilze. Not only was her English incredible but she has such palpable passion for The Lord. The last discussion night (the crying night) she felt that God was calling her to sing a song that she had written for Him and it was one of the most incredible moments I had ever witnessed. She used her beautiful gift to sing to these girls about God’s love and hope and they all loved it. We had so many together and got through so many frustrating moments and I know that my other co-leader, Elizabeth, would agree that we couldn’t imagine this week without you. You showed our girls Jesus through your actions and love and I will always be so thankful for that.
We spent our day off at Silmaci doing whatever the heck we wanted. We slept, ate, slept more, swam, sauna’d, slept, SLEPT IN… it was perfect. We were so sad to see our Latvian leaders off, but it was made better when 4 new Virginian’s and a whole new crew of Latvian’s came driving up the hill to camp. This week’s crew of Latvians is practically a whole new group of people for us. Usually I feel like we know a decent amount of Latvian’s here, but when they began getting out of the car, I felt like I was in a whole new world… and I loved it. NEW FRIENDS! And I think we might have scared them away in the first 10 minutes we were so excited.
Saturday, our little break ended and turned into a day of complete chaos, the kids came to camp. Just like last year, the kids got off the bus and Silmaci literally turned into a free-for-all land taken over by little children. This week, Gable has a group of 7 girls who are 7 and 8 years old, three of which were in my group last year, so when they came off the bus and started running towards me for a hug, I literally FREAKED OUT! So stinking cute. Some of these kids showed up to camp with literally only the clothes on their backs, that’s it. We had each kid a hygiene bag as they check in along with their tiny Camp Hope t-shirts, and for some, we take to a little “closet” of clothes that have been donated to us. For some, these could be the only new clothes and shoes they get for a very long time, so they really feel special when they get to pick our a new pair of shoes or a new dress.
On the older side, I (Olivia) have 10 and 11 year olds. I decided that I wanted to get to know new girls this year which I’m so excited about because I only know one of them from last year! However, when my campers from last year came running towards me after they got off the bus my heart shattered in the best way. These kids love in such a beautiful way and I can’t believe I get to be a part of it. God is so, so good.
We split up and all went to our separate cabins, Gable in cabin 1 – The Candy Girlz, Olivia in cabin 4 – The Symphony Girls (they chose this name themselves-apparently very passionate about music!). Cabin 1 was a site to see for our girls with pink streamers and balloons hanging from the ceiling – they screamed their high pitch noises as they ran in to choose which bed would be theirs. The same in Olivia’s cabin, I could hear their screams from cabins away. These kids seriously love being here, seeing all these new people, meeting with the Latvian and American staff. We may not be able to speak or understand each other, but a hug speaks more words than you could possibly imagine. This is one of my (Olivia) favorite parts of doing camp with a language barrier. There’s no way you can be shy and communicate anything so all the walls go down almost immediately. In a way we all dread that kids week means endless piggy back rides but I wouldn’t have it any other way honestly. We do everything we can to let our actions show God’s love and I don’t know any better way to do it than to walk to meeting holding a camper on your back and worship while holding the hands of two little girls.
At the end of the day, I couldn’t even imagine being awake any longer, these kids literally tired me out. Sleep sounded absolutely amazing, for the morning was just the beginning of possibly the longest day of our lives, the first full day of kids camp 2016!!!!
And what a first day it was!! It came roaring in with the youngest boys escaping their cabins during the staff meeting. They jumped from their balcony and wandered toward the water as we watched from a higher deck-eventually sending help their way. (By the way have we mentioned our amazing band?! There are so many people who have a huge hand in this camp that don’t receive nearly enough recognition and the worship band is just a small part of all those amazing people. God has blessed us with an incredible support system.) Meals are always a crazy affair as we seat all our kids and run back and forth with giant trays full of food and drinks, but wow I love taking care of these kids. We went off to our first morning meeting with full stomachs and we worshipped and received a short message from James. At this point the dreaded rain was coming in fast. I know God’s plan is so much greater than ours but dang it we really prayed for no rain!! And yikes did it rain. We rushed back to our cabins and the next hours were leaders scrambling to find ways to entertain campers. Gable used her fabulous face painting skills to entertain many campers everywhere and Olivia stuck with her modest nail painting ability and escorts to gaga ball. Swimming (freezing cold!!! This is what Texas winter feels like people!), crafts, and dance/music were all crazy with everyone trying to work with or around the rain but the kids all had a blast. It’s times like today where I see that we really do worry too much. These kids are just so happy to be here and God has it all taken care of-down pours of rain don’t come close to stopping him. Big Game arrived with a lot of very excited campers. My girls were so into the activity and I could see the group bonding right before my eyes. Group bonding means God has answered another prayer! Yay Him! Getting to know these girls has been such a blessing. They are insane and hyper and they love to hang on you but they have such a love for camp and for their leaders and it’s so incredible. I’m already dreading the goodbyes. Dinner time meant avoiding wet tables and planning our outfits for that nights meeting. This year our coordinators decided to recognize the fact that we would be at camp on a Sunday so they told us to get dressed up and blinged out and to get ready for a celebration. I LOVE this!! Sunday worship and fellowship is such an amazing opportunity and it should be a celebration! With the wind whipping around the tent we had a dance party in our princess crowns and bow ties and we were all smiling the entire time.