“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people.” – Luke 1:68
June 29, 2014 - It’s hard to believe a week ago today we were just arriving at Kids Across America. Our time on the mountain seemed to fly by, and yet in some ways because of all we experienced over the past seven days, it feels like longer ago. This year we were blessed to be able to bring 28 young people and 6 adults, and for many of them, this was their first time going to KAA.
Kids Across America is a Christian sports camp for urban youth located far from civilization in the Ozark Mountains near Branson, Missouri – but the place itself is anything but dull and quiet! The camp is literally filled with sounds of Christian hip-hop music, laughter, dancing and cheers. Eating in the dining hall alone is a unique experience (see video). As one KAA staffer explained, “It’s definitely not your grandma’s kitchen!”
At KAA the kids get to participate in lots of fun activities like archery, art, basketball, baseball, cheer, dance, football, golf, gospel rap, ski tubing, spoken word, swimming, tree-tops, zip-line, and more. Many of these activities also challenge the kids and help them overcome fears and anxieties. It’s awesome to see the look of amazement and pride on their faces when they accomplish something that they thought was too hard for them.
The best part about KAA, though, is the way the kids are loved on and poured into spiritually by their counselors – young Christian college students who are on fire for Jesus. The theme this year was “Redeemed,” based on Luke 1:68, and the campers learned that with Christ in their life they can be set free from the guilt and shame of sin. Our challenge going forward will be to help these young people learn how to “walk this out” as they return to their everyday lives.
Just one of the many highlights for me this week was seeing how God worked in the life of a 17-year-old boy who came along with us. You see, this boy was literally a last minute fill-in. In fact, two people had to drop out before he was able to get the spot. But God knew all along that Mario was supposed to be with our group because of the seven teens we took to KAA 3, he was the only one who stepped forward and committed his life to Christ for the very first time. God is so good!
Thank you so much to our many faithful sponsors and prayer warriors for your continued love and support. With your help, lives are being transformed!
KAA Camp Reflections, Part 2; July 1, 2014 - Now that I’ve been home from camp for a couple days, I am continuing to process all that happened during the week for our young people. There were so many “God moments.” It is always special to witness a camper making the decision to ring the camp bell as a sign that they are accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and in addition to 17-year-old Mario, we had several of our young people who did this last week. But what was also encouraging was seeing the number of our youth who rededicated themselves as a personal commitment to continue working on their Christian walk.
One particularly emotional “God moment” for me happened on the night of “Cross Talk.” This is a special evening when the campers gather outside to watch a dramatic reenactment of the crucifixion and hear a message about what this means for them. Each camp has its own presentation geared for the age group of the campers there, and towards the end they are given the opportunity to step forward to dedicate their lives to Christ if they feel they’re ready. In KAA 1, where the younger kids are, campers are usually taken to their cabins right after this so that the counselors can talk to them and answer their questions. This year for the first time, though, the campers were able to pray with their adult leaders before they went to their cabins. I will forever remember and treasure in my heart that moment when 10 of our 12 kids came running up to us to cry and hug and pray. It was so special to have the opportunity to be a part of this important milestone in these young peoples’ lives. And how exciting it will be to walk with them and help them grow in their faith in the upcoming years! Just another reason why I am extremely thankful for our volunteers and donors who make it possible for us to take our young people to KAA each summer.
Brenda Lampela, Youth Director