The Road Map to making Camp a success this year.
Those you who know me know I have two common themes running through my ministry: Camp and Spain. My first job at 16 was in a camp kitchen in Oak Glen, California, followed by 8 seasons more at Thousand Pines Camp in Crestline, California. Two of my first mission trips to Spain were also to two of the few Christian Camps on the Iberian Peninsula, to Manantiales de Vida and Zazpi Haritzak, respectively.
So 18 years after my first mission trip to Spain and also my first camp job (I did both in the summer of ’97), I’m pleasantly sitting with a camp in motion, at neither Manantiales in Malaga province nor at Zazpi Hartizak Christian Camp in Navarra. The Lord opened doors in the province where I live and serve, Sevilla.
Knock and it will be opened unto you. Seek and you will find.
I began developing camps at Zazpi Haritzak in 2005 and served at my last camp there in 2010, but in 2011 the doors opened up at Los Naranjos Christian Camp in Cazalla de la Sierra. I had requested teams for years from churches to try to have counselors to be able to sign up minors, but got my golden ticket last summer. First I had a direct contact from our Missions Pastor, stateside following up on my team request I put in, on our review for the church. He asked about who I might have in mind as a team leader and we corresponded and it turned out he had a perfect leader in Kim Simons, who runs our whole children’s ministry at church. Kim brought this highly skilled team to make my ideas on paper for an English Action Camp in Spain to be successful.
So in 2014 the real hurdle wasn’t finding staff, but signing up kids. Because it was the first ever camp of its kind at Los Naranjos Christian Camp or perhaps in our state, it was experimental which could go either way, thank the Lord 20 kids came and Loved it! In 2014 we had team games, relays, zipline, we had comedy games, theatre props, acting classes, dance classes, music classes, stage combat and cinematography. Many of these ideas I’d seen before but part of it was pulling it off here in Seville, both with the problem of signing up kids and in recruiting the team to do it, so in 2014, the Lord gave me the camp that I had constructed in my mind and on paper, with a gift bow on top. So 2014 was a success and more than I deserved, but it did mean this new camp had to keep going…
Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and its righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.
So my roadmap for success in 2015 had a few crucial elements. Prayer goes without saying.
- Finding staffing for the expected increase of the camp. Because our campers were blown away by the testimony, fun and friendships created in 2014, I expected some increase in this years attendance, yet I was very surprised with the ends results. The Lord provided me the staffing. Another pastor at my church heard the stories from the Spain team, especially about how the camp had lots of potential but needed lots of improvements to its historic buildings. This pastor came ready to bring not only counselors but also a building team. So this crucial piece of the puzzle was taken care of, thanks to Providence, by Spring 2015.
- Finding ways to follow up with those who had attended the year before. I had friends forward the camp information and PDF flyer to all the contacts they thought might like it. By the time I spoke to some leaders about the camp, they already had received an email and knew what i was talking about. I also made blog pages about the coming year, remembering how I had enjoyed events before, but later had not been able to find publicity the following year online. So to ensure that campers from last year and others who had heard about English Action Camp could find us when they used a search engine, I made actually more than one blog page with all the necessary camp information and answers to frequently asked questions. I then made a link to the camp blog page on Facebook, and tagged both campers and counselors from the year before, as campers had friended their counselors and would see the link.
- Getting hard copies of the publicity out there. By July 2015 I had three flyers and brochures in circulation. First I had parents asking and asking about the camp by this winter, so Sara helped me alter the flyer form last year to give some concrete details like the dates and price to the interested parents. Then I had a fold out full color brochure made by a good friend of mine. I handed out hundreds of these at all kinds of events and on the street. I handed them out at the Andalucia-wide Fieide Gathering in Casa Bermeja, Malaga. I handed out another hundred to Christians at the Dia del Evangelio (Gospel Day) at the Torre del Oro. I had them given out at several churches and at the English Center, were I taught last year. I went to a Basketball Tournament in Puebla’s City Gymnasium and this was a real blessing. I arrived and a couple from our church who run a charity breakfast program were there and greeted me right when I arrived, as they had City permission to sell the concessions at the basketball games. So I immediately knew I had favor on this mission. I gave them posters for their shop and then I got permission from the Gym to put up posters for camp there in the gym. Then I took my concessions up to the bleachers, and I was startled to be greeted again by the guys on the Puebla Basketball team. They remembered me from when I was on the team in 2010! So they invited me over to sit with them and I got to tell them all about English Action camp!
- Sharing the details with local authorities. Another story of Providence came when I had a little time one morning in May to go to the Puebla City Hall. I prayed for the Lord to help me find receptive ears from our local government. I went into the City Hall armed with my freshly printed posters and crisp color brochures. I asked who I might speak to and the city official led me to an office with double doors! I was totally shocked when the door opened and it was my next door neighbor, who had just been elected to city council, along with another local man that she had told me about, who runs a Puebla del Rio webpage. So they were extremely gracious (in contrast to other experiences I have had here in 10 years) and gave me a seat to sit at the desk. So I got to share all about English Action camp and how the purpose is to serve the pre-teens of Puebla and help them in their lives and in their English speaking skills. The council people took my posters and flyers and even put up posters for me in the City Hall. I left thanking God for that very real answer to prayer. Another similar thing happened at the Regional Pastors meeting in May. I arrived with all my brochures in hand ready to talk about the camp, when I saw my Los naranjos Board member friend Toni, there with his own flyers from the camp! I even held up the same Los Naranjos flyer he had and he laughed. So this rep. from the camp gave a great appeal to everyone about supporting and promoting our camps at Los naranjos this summer, and I again I knew we had favor with the Lord.
- I talked to many, many parents: on the phone, answering emails, talking to them at my work. There was lots of this!
In the end we were blessed with 45 campers and over 75 total participants at English Action Camp. I can only say, thank you Jesus. The team wrote a blog about their experience below, they also have a slide show of their time here in Spain and all that was accomplished on their very productive trip. How grateful I am looking back at each and every camper in the picture and the story of how they came to spend the week at camp.