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Summer camp hits the road for a new kind of camp experience

As campers arrive around 9 a.m., temperatures and face masks are checked. Parents wave their final goodbyes as campers head inside to greet their friends. By 9:30 a.m., campers move into the corps’ chapel for morning assembly, which includes a prayer, songs and Bible verses, as well as a live-action Bible story performed by staff and campers. 

Gratefulness flowed through the chapel as camp staffer Alena Grant delivered the morning prayer on Aug. 5: “God, I just want to thank you for today. I want to thank you for all the kids that came here. I just hope that today is an amazing day with lots of fun. I hope that all these kids can learn your love and experience your love here. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

 

During each morning assembly, the camp staff teaches a Bible verse with coordinated hand-gestures to campers. After the verse has been taught, campers are invited to show how well they have memorized the verse and gestures. Here, camper Ian (center) raises his hand, eager to recite the verse he’s just learned with his fellow campers and staff. On Thursday, the verse read: “But God demonstrates his love for us and this while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Photo by John Docter.


From Aug. 2 to Aug. 6, a team of camp staffers from the California South Division built a welcoming and safe environment at the Bellflower Corps for campers, many of whom have been isolated throughout the pandemic. Through thoughtful prayers and fun activities, campers were invited to come together, think together, and play together. 

The Bellflower Corps was one of 13 California corps, in communities ranging from San Luis Obispo to San Diego, that took part in week-long day camps instead of the traditional overnight camp stays. The Camp-to-the-Corps effort marked The Salvation Army’s return to camping after a year hiatus, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As many camp-enthusiasts say, it’s not the cabins that make the camp, it’s the community.

 

As campers arrive, temperatures are checked and face masks are given to ensure safety amid COVID-19 concerns. Camp staff, Malikah Sillah (left) checks the temperature of camper Juan (right) as he arrives at The Salvation Army Bellflower Corps for his fourth day of camp. Photo by John Docter.


Following morning assembly, campers chose which elective to participate in, including: sports, arts and crafts, dance, and drumming. Following electives, campers participated in the group activity for the day—from tie-dye on Thursday to water games on Friday. Then, following the group activity, campers and staff joined together for lunch and finished the day with a group game and an afternoon assembly. Along every step of the way, campers were encouraged to pray, be kind and help others.

  • Outside, camper Ruben shows off what he’s learned during his morning drumming elective. Photo by John Docter.

Do Good:

  • While it may not look like a traditional Salvation Army summer in many places, camp is back on across the West this year. Read more to see what summer camp will look like in 2021.
  • How do we treat everyone with love and kindness, as if they were our neighbor? Get the Do Good Family Roadmap and take a 4-week journey for families in how to be a good neighbor. Follow the guide to see what the Bible says about the art of neighboring and take tangible steps together on your printable roadmap to be a caring, helpful, welcoming and supportive neighbor right where you are. 
  • You’ve probably seen the red kettles and thrift stores, and while we’re rightfully well known for both…The Salvation Army is so much more than red kettles and thrift stores. So who are we? What do we do? Where? Right this way for Salvation Army 101.
  • Get support from moms who are right there with you. Join the Caring Moms Collective and find a place of low-pressure, high-encouragement love anytime you need it, whether you know it or not. Get in the group today. 
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Lou Buhl

Lou Buhl is the Editorial Assistant at Caring, where she helps stories of passion, faith, and good-will find their way from word to print. In 2020, Lou received her bachelor’s degrees in journalism and french from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan before making the move to the west coast. Lou draws inspiration through the good work and untold stories of others. When not editing transcripts or interviewing sources, you’ll find Lou sitting by the beach with a good book, taking in the scenery.