by Chris Meehan. Photos by Andy Bowar, Alicia McShane, Bob Pintozzi, Laura Rice and Amy Root.
Nearly 400 people from ten locations of the People of Praise, as well as guests from Ohio, California and China, came together in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, early this August for Servant Camp.
“God was very present to all of us the whole time,” says camp director Pat Ficker. First-time camper Elizabeth Maunu, a ninth-grade guest from Minnesota, agrees: “At Servant Camp I could feel the Spirit of the Lord.”
Around 100 adults joined the children at camp for a jam-packed week of games, crafts, skits, flag ceremonies, meals, teachings, sharings, campfires, canoes, rope courses, healings, dancing, rock wall climbing, songs serious and silly, swimming, prophecies and prayer, with a wealth of good weather and notably fewer mosquitoes than in previous years.
“The activities were really fun--and I enjoyed making new friends,” says camper Owen Linczer, a seventh-grader from South Bend. Muncie ninth-grader Elizabeth Coleman also enjoyed meeting people of other ages and from other locations. She had ample opportunity: campers and staff came from Colorado Springs, Corvallis, Evansville, Indianapolis, northern Virginia, Portland, Rockford, Saskatoon, South Bend and the Twin Cities.
Children in first and second grades attended a day camp, while all older children camped in tents and cabins. Campers in the eighth, ninth and tenth grades listened to talks and discussed them in the mornings, then had group activities (often off site adventures, such as kayaking in a nearby river) in the afternoon. Campers in the eleventh and twelfth grades participated in the morning formation sessions, then served as junior counselors for younger children in the afternoon.
Four People of Praise missionaries gave a presentation describing their life and work in Mission to the older campers on Thursday morning. “I just really enjoyed hearing the miracles that they had experienced or stories of God blessing people with peace,” says Sean Pingel, an eighth-grader from South Bend. “I got a desire to go, if I feel like God is telling me to say something or do something, to trust him and go do it.”
Missionaries taught the whole camp several new songs they had written. “My favorite new song was Mary Timler’s ‘Shout It Out,’” says Maggie Kocon, 10, from Servant Branch. Dominic Bulger and several other campers from Servant Branch helped to teach “Rejoice,” a new song of their own.
“It’s a huge operation, but it runs like a well-oiled machine,” notes Kate Olson, a first-time Servant Camp counselor from the South Bend branch, which sent up a contingent of 66 children.
Planning is already underway for next year’s camp. “It takes about a year to organize a camp like this,” veteran staff member Jeanne Oberg points out. “We have camp on the brain for most of the year!”
Pat Ficker adds, “We always do our best to help children encounter the Lord and his Holy Spirit amid the fun and friendship, and this year the Lord outdid himself in blessing that.”