Hello, Swamp Blog Readers! I hope you all enjoyed a good, relaxing week with your families during Thanksgiving break last week! I definitely loved the time I got to spend with my siblings and my cousins, and I definitely enjoyed my Thanksgiving meal! But most importantly, it was a time for me to take a step back and appreciate the blessings I have in my life.
This week, we have the privilege of hearing from a very special group of counselors. Ashley Bowman, Alexa Keckley, Ariana Holt and Jake Graham took off yesterday afternoon to continue sharing Camp Swamp culture with the youth camps that are happening in Africa over the next couple weeks! They will be visiting South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe, and will have the chance to serve the camps there for children in those areas!
What is so amazing about the camps in Africa is that while they have their own cultures and experiences, there is still a camp culture that is so familiar to us who have been to Camp Swamp in Georgia. And that's what Ariana looks forward to witnessing:
"I'm looking forward to experiencing the camp culture that they themselves have created. Having only been to camp in the US, I'm not sure what to expect, but camp in and of itself is magical. It's going to be amazing to see that magic reveal itself in a different way."
This will be Alexa's fourth time visiting camp in South Africa, her second time to camp in Zimbabwe and her first time to camp in Kenya! Here are some reflections on what she most enjoyed at last year's camps:
"Last year, there was such an atmosphere of genuine love and vulnerability, so I'm really excited to just be able to be with God and learn from people.
My favorite part of camp was definitely the singing devotionals because the campers, like even the young ones, praise God with their entire beings and get so hype. But I'm honestly ready to just grow deeper friendships with people because its crazy to me that I can be so close with people I only get to see once a year."
Speaking from my own experiences, having those kinds of relationships on an international level is so special and you learn so much about life outside of what you know. For some, that seems overwhelming, but not for Jake Graham!
"I am looking forward to lowering myself as low as possible in order to push people to thier fullest potential. I am also looking forward to learning from a culture that is (potentially) vastly different than my own."
Jake will also be joining the Swamp Corps group heading to Nicaragua at the end of December! Connecting with people and serving children around the world is such a unique experience, and it's really incredible that camp allows people to make these connections!
For Ashley Bowman, prayer is really important in preparing for a trip like this. She also reminds herself that God is the driving force for everything that they will be doing in Africa!
"I want to make sure that I am giving the campers and the counselors the same experience that they would be getting if they were in the States. I also have to remind myself to go into the camps with an open mind and a learning heart."
I think it's safe to say that this group of experienced and fun-loving counselors are ready to take on the challenges, joys and adventures Africa has for them! Like the Swamp Corps groups that travel worldwide, this group is one that wholeheartedly believes in being led by the Spirit in their plans. And that's one of the reasons Swamp Corps only goes where they are invited. Another reason is that all these different places really own the process of planting a camp culture if their invitation is organic! Definitely be praying for safe travels for this group, and for the camp directors over in Africa, that they begin and continue some amazing camp experiences for children in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya! Where would you like to see Swamp Corps go next?
Campers at Zim Camp in 2015!
Until next week,
Dec. 29-Jan. 1
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