Saturday, 27 September 2014

Kids Camp 2014

I will place a disclaimer right here right now that I was not allowed to take photos of kids at all on this camp, and as it was a kids camp that would have been difficult, so I didn't even try.  ;)  These photos are from the Google image page so you get a feel for the beautiful place we stayed at.  :)

Now that that is out of the way, I will try and share how awesome the camp was... it is very hard to put in writing as my thoughts are running wild with all the different things I could say and would only I will probably forget half of them before I press that resolving "Publish" button.

I won't lie by saying that I was a little trepidatious in accepting an invitation to go and be a leader of a group of kids at the annual Tahlee Christian Kids Camp.  I had never 'done' a kids camp before in my life so I didn't really know what I was getting myself into.  Looking over the flyer, I was pretty sure it would be fun and as I love kids I wanted to embrace any opportunity to minister to them.

Jess and I went over to Tahlee on Saturday for two days of leaders training and looking over the programme.  The theme for this year's camp was Chains, Shackles and Freedman.  It was a significant theme for Tahlee as the property was originally an estate owned by a Christian couple in the 1830's who ministered to the convicts that arrived by ship directly onto the property.  By drawing a parallel between the convicts and humanity in sin, the kids were presented with a powerful illustration of what is is to be a slave to the world and to Satan, and the joy of being set free in Christ.  The two days of preparation were not easy - it was a rather pressing schedule to make sure we knew what we had to know, knew where we had to be at what times, organize who would be leading what segments, etc.  On the other hand, those two days - as well as the leaders meetings we had every morning and night for the duration of the camp - quickly knitted all of us leaders into a single unit: we clued each other in on certain children, prayed for each other, laughed and cried together, encouraged each other, supported each other... we made some wonderful new friends and it was such a blessed time every time we sat down and off loaded, shared funny little stories or had the joy of being able to relate a transformation in a child's life.

Monday came.  We gathered per normal in the the morning and prayed together for the children who would be arriving in just a couple hours time.  Eventually, everyone turned up and I was able to lead my group - the Cunning Convicts - to their dorm.  All up, the Cunning Convicts consisted of two leaders (myself and another young woman) and six little girls from grades 3-5.

Each day was run essentially the same:

  • 7:00 am -  Leaders meeting, then race back to get the girls (who should be up and dressed and take them to the dining room for breakfast.
  • 8:00 am - Breakfast, after which everyone heads back to the dorms to have 'dorm time'.
  • Sometime between 8:30 and 9:00 - Dorm time.  This consists of everyone cleaning their dorms for the dorm inspections, and reviewing and discussing the previous day's lesson and preparing for that day's lesson.
  • 9:30 am - Adventure Zone A in which we all meet for songs, skits, and teaching by the wonderful Mrs. A who taught from the Bible via chalk talks.  She did a fantastic job.  This session also included that day's memory verse presented in some way (usually a skit) so that parts of the verse could be taken down to stimulate the kids memory.  ;)
  • 11:00 am - Morning tea.
  • 11:30 am - Water sports.  This was arguably the most popular session of the day.  The options were tubing, swimming, fishing, canoeing  and a water slide.  I decided to join the water slide 'maintenance' team as it was the only option other than fishing that didn't involve being entirely on or in the water.  It turned out to be the best choice, in my opinion.  :D  So fun - just add detergent.  XDD
  • 1:00 pm - Lunch time!
  • 2:00 pm - Craft.  There was a lovely older couple at camp who have been part of the camp for 35 years.  Mrs. R organized the craft and made sure everyone had what they needed and that everyone listened to her step by step instructions.  We made treasure chests, kites and necklaces.
  • 4:00 pm - afternoon tea.
  • 4:30 pm - Adventure Zone B.  This session consisted of more songs, more skits and puppets, and an object lesson which was my session with Mr R, (only he let me organise it and did what I told him!)  Most of our object lessons were science experiments that we could relate to what Mrs. A had spoken about in the morning, so Mr. R presented himself as an absent minded professor and I was his level-headed assistant.  It was very funny, and the kids responded well to the demonstrations.  
  • 6:00 pm - Dinner time.
  • 7:00 pm - this time was varied from night to night.  Tuesday night was a history walk.  We took the kids to a cellar under Tahlee House, the boat harbour where convicts used to be dropped off, and the servants quarters behind the house.  At each station, the kids met a historical figure (a convict, Lady Isabella, and a maid) and learned what it was like for each person socially in the 1830's.  Wednesday night was the bush dance.  This was really very funny as +Toby Kolos and I were leading the dance and had practised before hand.  As a result, we knew what we were doing and did it relatively well, I thought.  (Most of the time, that is... I would keep forgetting whether it was right or left arm first!)  So we showed the kids how to do it, got into groups and gave it a shot.  The heel-toe polka is relatively straight forward, so that wasn't too bad, but then we demonstrated the "Strip the Willow" dance.  This one was my favourite of the two as it was more complicated and gave one a sense of accomplishment.  ;)  Anyway, Toby and I led the dance, skipped down the middle, skipped back, led the lines around and behind for the next couple to start their dance at the top.  Unfortunately, no one else really got the point of it and went randomly from one person to the next in utter disregard for beat or rhythm.  It was quite fun though.  Thursday night was very powerful as the Tahlee staff set up a recreation of Pilgrims Progress and the kids walked the trail with their burdens and learned about different aspects of the Christian walk.  
  • 9:00 pm - Lights out for the kids and meeting for the leaders.  We would get to bed any time between 10:00 and 11:00.

Friday was the last day and even though we were all ready to go back home, we all knew it wasn't going to be easy to let the kids go and say goodbye.  One by one, they all went home and we said good-bye to the other leaders which was every bit as sad if not more than saying goodbye to the kids.  One of the other leaders - a really sweet Asian girl whom I got along really well with - is returning to her own country soon and saying good bye to her was very sad. As I said before, the entire leadership team became a single unit that worked together to minister to the kids so everyone checked up on everyone else to make sure we were all coming back next year.  :D

There are so many other things I could mention, but the one thing that stands out is the awesome privilege Jess and I had of being able to pray with a girl to accept Christ for the first time.  It was so exciting!

To sum it all up (if that is even remotely possible!) the entire week was such a blessing and I can't wait for next year already!  :D  Praise God for what He has done, what He is doing, and what He will do in the lives of children in our area, NSW, Australia, and the world over.


  1. Wow! What an amazing experience! It sounds like you had a lot of fun!
    I also find it quite funny that you met Toby and Leonardo! XD

    1. We did have a lot of fun. :D
      LOL! It was rather funny - we kinda knew of each other but it took us a while to place names. It was great to meet them. :D