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Kenya Summer Camp 2006

Project Dates: December 10-15, 2006

UYC volunteer at the 2006 Kenya Summer Camp

Youth Corps Volunteers Serve at Camp Kenya

by John Elliott, Senior Pastor East Africa

United Youth Camps and United Youth Corps provide teens with plenty of opportunities to witness the values of Christianity through time spent with ministers, members and fellow peers in the Church. In today's increasingly selfish world, our young people shine as they mature in their commitment to live God’s “give” way of life. As adolescents transition to young adulthood, participating in service projects is an excellent way to test character, learn the joys of giving through unique and challenging service opportunities.

During college break in December, Youth Corps volunteers Jamie Franks and Christina Davis Kenya where they served as staff at United Youth Camp Kenya. 63 teens and 22 staff camped together on the beautiful shores of Lake Naivasha for five days of intensive activities and education. My wife Merrie and I, along with newly appointed Associate Senior Pastor, Tim Waddle were part of the team that contributed to a very unique experience for all involved.

As Youth Corps volunteers, both Jamie and Christina brought with them experience, expertise, and opportunities to mentor future leaders in the Church. The reciprocal gift to them was an altered worldview through which culture and the Church as a whole is seen and understood.

Jamie and Christina journalled their experience and excerpts are included here.

"We, Jamie Franks and Christina Davis, are writing to you after our amazing experience serving as United Youth Corps volunteers in Kenya Africa. It was an amazing experience which broadened our understanding of life in some of the most primitive areas of the world as well as our common bond of faith with church members abroad. We will treasure these experiences for the rest of our lives.

UYC Volunteers Jamie and Christine

Jamie: "I think before adventuring to Africa, we all had preconceived notions on what we were going to encounter. We had heard the stories, read the articles and seen pictures of this place on the other side of the world. However, there are some things that books, pictures, and second hand stories can never prepare you for. All of us brought very different travel experiences with us, and soon would share many interesting experiences and challenges as a group. Upon arrival to Africa one of the first things that struck me was the sheer beauty of the country. The wildlife, the trees, the mountains, all truly beautiful, but the truly amazing part is that all this beauty serves as a back-drop to such great poverty, corruption, and at times great suffering. With all that said though, once we arrived at the camp and had the opportunity to travel around to the different churches and interact with the people, it was obvious that the people were just as beautiful and strong as the land. I admired that despite their hardships and difficulties as a whole they had such unwavering positive attitudes, and were all striving forward to the same vision of the future that we all share.

Christina: "We served as counselors and activity staff at our Kenya United Youth Camp. The entire staff all really worked as a team to support each other through the challenges and eye-opening experiences we faced each day. Apart from Mr. and Mrs. Elliott, none of us knew each other prior to the trip.

Jamie: "The summer camp, from day one had many similarities as well as many differences to the camps that we had all been used to in the States. One of the major obstacles for us, as internationals, was the language barrier. We required a translator for almost every interaction, while we found some expressions and gestures to be truly "international." We found the children to be very warm, friendly, attentive, willing to learn and always ready and waiting for our attention. And just like our camps in the states there were many adults who took time away from there jobs, and lives to serve and give of their time to help out at camp. But just like our camps in the states, at the end we were all exhausted, and ready for a break!

Christina: "It was amazing how we were able to relate our thoughts and passions with each other in such a dynamic setting. Traveling with two ministers also proved to be a fantastic learning experience for both of us. While driving and during meal times, we had in depth discussions about being a youth in Gods church, what challenges members face living in Africa and our daily adventures. We would like to thank everyone who assisted us at the summer camp. Deacons and church members took of time from work in Africa to aid the children. I found that the children were awed by the attention we showed them, and just being there with them gave the basis of a strong Godly example of service.

Jamie: "After camp we did get the opportunity to take a small break and visit a safari park on Lake Nakuru. To have the opportunity to see these beautiful and strong animals in their natural habitat was truly an amazing experience that Zoo's just don't do any justice to. This time at the safari park seemed to rejuvenate us a bit, and then we had the opportunity to travel to some of the more rural congregations. Some of these churches proved fairly challenging to get to, do to the roads, or lack of roads, but we always made it without any major complications. Upon arriving to the churches, we were always received with an extremely warm welcome. It is amazing how you can be so far from home, around people you have never met before, do not speak the same language, and then instantly you hear the familiar sound of hymnals being played, and suddenly you feel right at home in a mud hut in Africa! Another good thing to know is that even in Africa after church, there is always a pot luck!"

Overall the experiences I had in Africa I will only continue to learn from throughout the rest of my life. The people have amazing hearts and at their very core they are all striving for the same goals and future that we all are. I will never forget my time in Africa, and can't wait to go back and visit all of my new friends!

The contribution to Camp Kenya that both ladies made was very warmly welcomed by all the teens and greatly appreciated by their fellow staff. We hope they and many others like them will volunteer again to serve in a Youth Corps project like Camp Kenya!

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