Before talking about the camp I would like to step behind and tell you how I ended up as an “oknagan leader”. Believe it or not at first I rejected Datev’s request to serve as a leader. I couldn’t accept because I had already registered 2 courses for my summer semester. To be honest I wanted to both finish the courses and serve as a camp leader. From the very first day of the semester my courses were cancelled because the number of students attending the classes were less than 8. I was really frustrated because for my last semester I will have to take 6 courses (out of which 4 are really tough courses). For a complete week I got mad, my stress controlled me, and I just prayed for God to help me as I go through this period. Eventually I realized that instead of stressing over the cancelled courses I could use my free time to serve in a DVBS. I asked around if they needed anybody but unfortunately I was bit late all the DVBS-s had enough leaders. As I was thinking of ways to fill my empty schedule, I remembered Datev’s request of serving as a leader for the Badanyats Camp and so I grabbed my phone immediately and asked him if I could still serve. Gladly, he accepted and introduced me to the group of leaders who had already met several times to prepare for the camp.
Honestly it was really weird for me to see myself as a Badanyats Camp leader. I was a badany 4 years ago but now I had to be an actual leader! I was really worried and nervous since I had never worked with teens. I had worked with Sunday School Children but teenagers?! I started thinking things like: “Am I really ready to lead teenagers?”, “What would teenagers think of me as a new leader?”, “Would I really make a difference?”, “Would I be able to share my faith with them?”, “Would I be able to help them as they snap out from the self-centeredness/escapism/stress?”… At the same time I prayed and asked God to use me, to show me what I can do and use it for a purpose greater than myself.
From the very first day of the camp I knew deep inside that there was a reason for me to attend the camp. 78 teenagers entered KCHAG each with a purpose in mind. Their eyes were filled with curiosity and their warm smiles comforted me. After the worship the leaders were introduced via a snap-video, then I had to lead the Ice-breaking Games alongside Lori. Contrary to what I thought the badanies really enjoyed the games, got introduced to each other, and we all had a good laugh! I tried to socialize and to get to know badanies from different youth groups. I can still remember my first awkward meeting with a group of girls. I just sat beside them and asked for their names, their hobbies, whether or not they had siblings, the countries they had traveled to, and so on…
Early in the morning the leaders met and we discussed about the daily schedule. Everyday badanies had the opportunity to worship and praise God, to learn about Him, to play fun games, to learn about something new (through the workshops), and to socialize. Together we discussed about snapping out from escapism, stress, self-centeredness, and finally to ask God to snap out. The badanies were reminded the following:
• God created us in His own image. Each and every individual is unique with all his/her flaws and imperfections. It is normal for us as human beings to escape from who we are. Nobody wants the other to see his/her flaws and that’s exactly what social media profiles are promoting (to hide your true self and to create a profile others want to see). Jesus was transparent. He didn’t hide His identity although everybody mocked Him. Instead He removed some people’s masks and revealed their true selves.
• We need to snap out from our anger and stress. Stress causes disharmony, intensifies our fears, and controls us such that we act contrary to who we really are. God’s strength is revealed through our weaknesses.
• Narcissism or self-centeredness VS self-worth. It is important to take care of ourselves, our bodies, our minds, etc.… We need to make sure to snap out from the thought that we are the center of the universe. Love yourself but remember to share your love with others as well since after all our God is Love.
• It is normal for us to fight with God. We usually tend to think that we know what’s best for us and when God does the opposite we get frustrated. Just like any other relationship, to keep it solid we need to communicate with Him even if that means to actually fight with Him. Finally, God is moved by faith and not by need.
The discussions nourished our faith and to put our faith into action we had the chance to serve the Trad DVBS children. The badanies were really excited and they worked hard to prepare fun activities for the children. The event was a success! The children enjoyed a lot and their warm smiles were a proof. In addition to the discussions we had prayer periods where badanies had to use their 5 senses to get closer to God.
Furthermore, the badanies had the chance to play various games such as Army 101, Muddy Games, Murder Mystery, Jeopardy, and Pokémon Go. The games required physical strength, general knowledge, analytical skills, teamwork, and sportsmanship. Throughout the days I had the chance to chat with some badanies and to get to know them more. I shared with some of them about my relationship with God and how my faith gave me strength every step of the way. I loved (continue to love them) them more and more as the days went by. I felt blessed as I saw talented, curious, friendly, and fun badanies all gathered in KCHAG.
The highlight of the camp was the Nvirman Period. As we, the leaders, stood in a circle I remembered the day I took the decision to be a member of God’s family. I couldn’t stop crying as Badanies approached us and hugged us as we sang worship songs. My eyes were filled with tears of happiness as I knew God was celebrating with us. With His wide arms He embraced each and every badany as we prayed for them.
Oh Lord, I pray that you hold their hands and guide them as they go on their journey to know you more. Dear God, please let them feel your love and let them sense your presence in every step of the way. Help them to snap out from whatever is holding them to come closer to you. May your strength appear in their weaknesses and may you bless them and their families. I pray that their decisions would be put into action and they would be filled with your love and hope. In the name of the leaders I pray that you give us the wisdom we need to guide your children and bring them close to you oh Lord. I pray this in Jesus Christ’s Holy name, Amen.
Finally, I thank God for giving me the opportunity to attend the camp, meet the lovely badanies, make friends, and to get even closer with Him.