Yikes! Where did January go? All of the sudden I realize there is only one more day left and I haven’t yet posted about our service project focus for the month.
So, here it is.
Without further ado, I’d like to reintroduce you to Campo Alegría, the camp started by Chop Point in 1999. A few years back, a wonderful American couple moved to Nicaragua to take over the day-to-day management of Campo Alegría. After three years, they felt God prompting them to move on. While we wished them well in all future endeavors, it was a sad day for those who love Campo Alegría.
An unfortunate by-product of that family leaving was the decline in camp use. Without an English-speaking contact, American groups dwindled. And without an in-country representative focused on spreading the word, Nicaraguan groups wondered if Campo Alegría was even still running.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons God called us to spend this extended time here? If so, we are thrilled.
And this month, I finally launched a new web site for the camp, to help everyone understand its three main purposes:
Camps for Kids
First, Campo Alegría is all about kids… little kids and big kids, cute kids and not-so-cute kids, plus kids from all over Nicaragua that are hungry, hurting, and so in-need of the hope we find through faith in Jesus. As much as possible, we want to run camps where we can give these a chance to “just be a kid” — swimming, playing games, singing, dancing, eating, hanging with friends, building sand castles, learning new skills, and having adventures — while also sharing with them about God’s love. These camps are accomplished in one of two ways: through North American groups traveling to host the camp, or through donations that fund camps.
At the beginning of this month, we were privileged to run a camp for girls (ages 8-14) rescued from life as a sex worker. A generous donor sent funds that allowed us to take the girls to Campo Alegría for a whole weekend of fun. We loaded up the girls and our families in the two vans (including the one many of you helped us purchase!!!) and made the two hour drive south for some serious fun.
The girls had never been to the lake before, and most of them had never been to any sort of camp or vacation either. They peppered their housemom with lots of questions along the way: Where will we sleep? In bunks! Will there be food? Lots of yummy stuff! What exactly will we do? Why, swim, of course! (That response elicited smiles all around.)
I think they spent five hours jumping the waves of Lake Nicaragua that Saturday. Then, just before dinner, we had “spa time,” which included lice combing, hair braiding, manicures, and pedicures. They were so tired from all the swimming that several fell asleep during their spa treatments (including the one shown in the photo to the right)!
It was an exhausting weekend, but in the oh-I’m-so-tired-I-could-sleep-for-10-days-but-man-I-wouldn’t-have-missed-that-for-the-world! sort of way.
We don’t always run these camps ourselves… sometimes teams from the U.S. come to host a camp. For example, in June we are thrilled to have three youth groups scheduled to come to Campo. Each one will bring the necessary talents, manpower, and funding to run a camp for 30-40 local children. Groups like this breath life not only into the kids they host, but also the whole program.
Second, Campo Alegría seeks to be a place of refuge and retreat, particularly for those ministering to the people of Nicaragua. To that end, we make the facility available for rentals of groups up to 90 people. We’ve taken three groups of missionary families to Campo overnight, to give them a chance to step away from their work and refuel briefly. We also rent the property out to others working here, to use for their own retreats or camps.
In December, 40 English-speaking men ventured to Campo for a weekend retreat, organized by my husband. No spa time here, but rather lots of blowing up stuff and catapulting it down the beach (using a trebuchet built by two of the guys).
The final area of focus for Campo Alegria is in seeing God’s promises lived out in the lives of these kids, through education. The number one way to improve the quality of life for children living in the second poorest country in our hemisphere is to keep them in school. There are so many factors that pull kids away from school here, not the least of which is the access to quality education. We hope to change that, one child at a time, by finding donors to sponsor these kids at local Christian schools, such as Nicaragua Christian Academy’s Nejapa and Matagalpa campuses. For just $100/month, a child’s life can be changed forever. [You can sponsor a child directly through NCA, if desired.]
Currently, we are drawing up plans to renovate one of the smaller cabins, to create some long-term staff housing. For many years, those affiliated with the camp have dreamed about having semester- or year-long interns living at the camp to help with the day-to-day activities. But, a big stumbling block has been the lack of suitable housing for such staff. We have a little bit of seed money to get started, but could use your help to complete this project.
In a nutshell (or as briefly as this rather long-winded writer can write), that is the core of Campo Alegría. Our family is honored to be a part of it. Would you consider joining us with your financial gifts and prayer support?