CampsAbroad History

Update from July 2015

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This is CampsAbroad’s third trip to Hong Kong, which is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the nation of China. Chris Lynch and I, along with former summer staff members Jeff & Kimberly Carlson, who live and minister in Hong Kong, have been conducting the staff training in this massive city before we move to the campsite in a more remote region. Remote is a little bit of a misnomer in Hong Kong! This is convenient for all of the staff members who live in HK because of the extensive and efficient city and region-wide public transit system. We have a very young staff here, but we know God is going to give them (and us) much grace as the camp begins. It has been so interesting to feel the “hum” of a city of 7 million people. We had a shock on Saturday evening seeing busload after busload of people coming into our quaint, intimate little city. Our hosts tell us the population swells on the weekends as thousands of thousands from the mainland come to Hong Kong to purchase goods. Incredible!

The weather has been in the high 80’s with mostly overcast, rainy skies. We have about 10 counselors from the mainland and 10 from Hong Kong. We are expecting 80-90 campers, including 30 or so from the mainland. Please pray for Chris and I as we do many of the services and pray for grace for the translators. They have to think for two people!

We will have a number of unsaved at camp, it appears. We found out in the last couple of days that about 10 campers coming from the mainland speak only Mandarin. All of the people in the Hong Kong region speak Cantonese and, yes, there is a huge difference. We’re trying to figure out the best way to manage our services being “double translated.” All of these things seem to be just a “day in the life” of the opportunities presenting themselves in a CampsAbroad experience and we are so excited to be here and minister with these wonderful Christians who battle through the same things we all do in their journey to be like Christ.

Report by Ken Collier

The Staff Training went smoothly. We trained 16 people in a Club House owned by a high rise conglomerate in Hong Kong. We had no returning counselors with counseling experience from the previous year, but all ten of the brand new counselors have come on strong at camp. They are a quieter group, but there is growth there. Getting to the training site each morning required a rather intricate trip using the metro rail system, accessed with your very own “personalized” Octopus Card. The whole system is phenomenal. The Octopus, I suppose, gets its name from the many tentacles of the rail system. You can get anywhere in the huge city if you don’t mind riding with some of the 7 million people who ride, as well. You load and reload the Octopus Card and can ride the rails or buses, buy meals, snacks, groceries—virtually everything.

We are finishing our week of camp on our campsite about 1 hour and 15 minutes from the city. The camp is owned by the Southern Baptist Convention. It’s an older facility, but it is reasonably complete. We are having a good time with the fact that the campsite staff decided to do all of their building and grounds repairs during our week of camp! We are not able to use the ballfield because it is being replanted. The activities (low ropes courses, swimming pool and main building entrances) are all under repair. They also change our meeting rooms for almost each service and activity, so it’s kind of like a scavenger hunt for the kids to find out where we are meeting! We thought about making it a team activity. We were quite surprised and pleased to have some air conditioning, hot water and a fridge in our room complex. We are blessed. The heat index is right up there in the mid-90’s.

The 60 young people come from area Hong Kong churches and about 14 more teens come from Mainland China. Eight of the Chinese kids speak only Mandarin, unlike the Hong Kong area kids who speak Cantonese. Chris and I have alternated speaking to the large group and the small group through interpreters, meaning we repeat our messages twice daily. This has stretched the interpreters. They have the hard job. I have especially enjoyed meeting with the Mainland kids each evening. In that group is a beautiful, brother/sister combo. Seeing the girl of 14, you know where they came up with the concept of “china doll.” We have a boy, probably 12 or 13 who is badly deformed and twisted, but he is “all in.” The kids take care of him and he seems to have a great spirit. It takes him a long time to get from place to place, but he makes it. We also have a grad student who is pursuing an advanced degree in science in Beijing. Her very bright mind has been overwhelmed with atheistic science, though her parents are believers. We are praying for her. It’s a diverse group, for sure, but each one is precious.

Funtime was hilarious, not because of the flawless execution of the skits on anyone’s part. Then again, I guess you could say we did “execute” a couple of the skits in a larger sense. Chris Lynch (son of Mac and Beth Lynch), Jeff Carlson (former summer staff married to Kimberly Thompson Carlson) and I were doing the “Jingle Cats” skit. Part of the skit involved bouncing one of the cats off of the ceiling of the meeting room, which I did with exuberance and alacrity, apparently. The cat hit a ceiling panel perfectly and disappeared into the dead space in the ceiling without breaking the panel. It added a certain something to the uniqueness of the skit, but it was challenging to finish the skit with one of the main furry characters already in “heaven.”

It is amazing to see these Hong Kongers work together wish such diligence. Pastor Cedric Wong, his secretary, Cindy, and his assistant, Jeff Carlson, run the program. From sister churches in the area are assistant pastors Matt Conrad and Jonathan Johnson, who have been tremendous supporters this week. Pastor Lewis Kong has helped us with translation and administration. This group wants to win a very bright generation of young people to Christ and see them live vibrant lives for Him. This kind of hard work and sacrifice is becoming apparent all over this dark world! This is CampsAbroad at its best!

Report by Ken Collier

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Update from July 2014

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Before I arrived, much of the preparation and labor for camp had already been accomplished by a team
of people from Grace Baptist Church in Hong Kong. This group was led by Wade Peltier and Pastor Cedric Wong. Cedric had just returned from a visit to The Wilds where he was able to see the camp philosophy in action. This is the third summer that Wade has helped in the HK camp. Each year it has grown in influence and numbers.

I arrived in time to help complete the training of the staff.  We were able to train 9 counselors and some additional guests as well.  Sunday evening and all day Monday were spent in counseling and program
training.  On Tuesday, we traveled to camp and started in the afternoon. We had around 50 campers from 6 different groups.  One group came down from mainland China and the others were from Hong
Kong.  The camp program was organized and operated well, thanks to the hard work of Wade and Jeff
Carlson.  Both of them are former Wilds staff members.

As I preached during the week, I could sense the Lord motivating and inspiring many of the campers. The public response was minimal; however, it was clear that the teens were responding. The counselors did an exceptional job. They were diligent and passionate in their ministry of discipleship. It was a true blessing to work alongside these servants. One of the unique blessings of the camp was the ability to expose a few more pastors to the CampsAbroad mission and philosophy. One of those pastors was involved most of the week and another one visited one evening. I was able to personally invest in discussing philosophy of camping with these men. At the end of camp we were able to have a de-briefing meeting with the leadership and pastors. They are excited about running the camp next year and already have a tentative date set. Those involved this year have seen the effectiveness of the philosophy and are committed to continuing that into the future. I reminded them that CampsAbroad’s goal is to prepare and train and then get out of the way and let them run with it!

Most of the campers this year were already professing believers, however the gospel was clear and I’m sure we may never know the way it runs its course in lives. I thank God that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation! Proclaim it faithfully, trust it fully and let God do the work. This is God’s mission and I am happy to be a very small part of His eternal plan!

Report by Mark Herbster

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Update from July 2013

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On Friday, I flew in to Hong Kong after a profitable time in the Philippines and Dan came in later that night from the U.S. We have really enjoyed our time with a great group of missionaries / teachers from the U.S. – they have quite an assembly here – all seeking to minister the gospel to the people of Hong Kong and mainland China. We held some training on Saturday evening, some more on Sunday afternoon and then pretty much all day Monday. Sadly, some of the counselors from mainland China had to head back early, leaving us shorthanded, but the ones who were able to stay really seemed to absorb a lot of the counseling material.

As far as we can tell, we have about half coming from China and half from Hong Kong churches. It won’t be a large group, but we are praying for big impact. Keep in mind that this is a new kind of camp experience for the churches and they are wondering what it will be like. The campsite itself is very nice – they have more free-time activities than any campsite I’ve seen overseas. The downside is that we are sharing it with other groups. Pray for wisdom to keep our teens separate and that the other people won’t be a hindrance to the spiritual impact of camp.

You might have heard that the camp we had planned in China was cancelled because of government issues. Lord willing, Steve L. and Dan will continue with their travel plans, turning it into a survey trip for future opportunities. Pray for wisdom and direction.

Report by Matt Collier

We are finishing up camp here in Hong Kong and I wanted to give you a “hot off the press” report on how it has turned out. Our group was smaller than we planned – we ended up with around 50 young people, but honestly, I don’t know if we would have been able to handle many more since we lost several counselors at the last minute. It really isn’t surprising, though, because we usually end up having to show the churches what camp looks like as we define it and prove to them that it is effective. We would have loved to see more churches involved, but are hopeful that word will spread now that people have experienced it for themselves. Let me switch to bullet points to give you some highlights.

  •  About half of the campers and counselors were from mainland China – a number that will only increase as word spreads among the house churches.
  • It rained all week. Every day. Lots of rain. (It is still raining as I type this!)
  • The campers had a blast – even in a waterlogged state. Apparently the only camps that they have experienced have been preaching conferences with very little free time. They even loved Big Ball Volleyball in the rain.
  • With all the great program help, Dan and I had a relatively light week!
  • The kids listened very well in all the sessions.
  • The counselors did a great job with all the details and connected well with the campers.
  • We never saw a widespread response, but we know of at least 6 young people who responded for salvation throughout the week. We believe there are others as well who talked to their counselors at other times.
  • We are hoping to see many more churches participate in camp next summer as word spreads and steps are taken to promote it.

Well, that about summarizes it. We are praying that God would allow this small effort in camping to broaden and swell in the years to come – especially in mainland China. At least for the time being, campers and counselors can move freely to and from Hong Kong. And in Hong Kong, we have freedom to preach the Bible openly – an amazing window of opportunity! Thanks for all your prayers this week. I’m heading home soon while Dan travels on to China to do some survey work for the next several days.

Report by Matt Collier

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