January 22, 2010

Youth Camp 2010

This past weekend was spent at Paraguay National Youth Camp 2010, held in Arazaty. Saúl, Camille, Hollie, and I attended (Ken stayed home with Caroline, who is one year too young still). I managed to squeeze in as the “computer girl,” even though I’m technically too old. (Read this whole blogpost and you get a bonus at the end….)

Several things jumped out at me as different in camp here, compared to what we’re used to. For one, the youth leaders were the workers at camp. This is just how it goes, you’re expected to be there, so the camp is staffed instantly. Not only does this mean the camp director didn’t have to be on the phone digging up workers for months before camp, but it also means that the workers have a heart for youth, are mature enough for the job (they’re already working with youth in their local churches), and understand what goes into planning and carrying out a big event.

Another difference was the amount of days camp takes place. It’s a bit shorter than we have in SC, but the schedule meant more were able to come because it works well with a job. The campers arrived Thursday evening and had service and dinner. Friday and Saturday were the full days/nights, and then Sunday started with the service, lunch, and then the closing ceremonies. After the closing, everyone pitched in to clean the camp, and that evening, the buses returned to take the campers home. So even though Sunday’s schedule was different than that of Fri/Sat, it felt like you got three full days.

One more thing that I thought was a good idea was transportation. Depending on where you were coming from, there was a slight difference in your tuition. Those from FAR away paid less because they had to buy a bus ticket to get here. Those from a couple hours away paid a bit more because a bus was chartered and they all rode together. Those from nearby paid a little less than that because they were expected to find their own way here. The chartered buses made the difference for many who would have had a difficult time otherwise.

Friday and Saturday mornings were full of classes on finding God’s purpose, and the afternoons--despite the heat—were spent in organized games and activities. I was thrilled that I didn’t have to participate in the running, jumping, crawling, soccer, and other “fun” things they did in the trillion degree sun, and could just be an innocent bystander this time.

The services were super, with dynamic praise and worship and pertinent messages. The youth really responded and the altar time was very special. Afterwards, I enjoyed watching talent time (yep, just like at home), where “whosoever will” was allowed to take the mic and share their skills—well, in some cases, share their lack of shyness to come forward. It was a GREAT weekend!

BONUS: I can’t let this close without telling you the funniest part. Saturday night was REALLY late, with everyone wanting to participate in talent time after the service. We got to sleep around 3 AM. It had been a hot day, and I’d drunk a TON of water and juice. Well, around 4 AM, I woke up knowing I should have visited the ladies’ room before going to sleep, after all that water. I used my cell phone to light the way to the door, which I found LOCKED! I started walking bed to bed trying to find the one lady with the key, but to no avail. All this time, I just HAVE TO GO! So finally, I found a partially opened window. Yep, you guessed it. I crawled over the sill and jumped out onto the ground. Not a long way down, but I knew I’d have to jump to reach it and climb back in. I jogged to the restroom, found there was no paper, and began a mad search for the hidden stash somewhere in the building, not believing how hard it was just to go potty. After finally finding a roll of paper and taking care of my business, I made the jog back to the open window. There was a shiny moon and a few streetlights outside, and inside was total darkness, so I was taking a “leap of faith” to get back in. About the time I hike one leg over the windowsill, the lady with the key woke up and saw a shadow coming in the window. She started yelling, and I hollered in a whisper (you know what I mean), “Wait! It’s me, Christie!” over and over in Spanish. I just knew I’d have a shoe—or worse—to the head before it was over. Thankfully, she recognized me in time to save me a whopping. Next time, I’ll potty BEFORE bed…

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