Youth Peace Travel Team 2016 – Camp Brethren Heights

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Hello dear friends! We just finished up our 8th week of the summer at Camp Brethren Heights with Beaver Camp! What a different change of pace to work with 9-11 year olds in such a fun atmosphere. This week the team practiced what it preached by stepping out of our comfort zones in differing ways. “Beaver one, beaver all, let’s all hear our beaver call!”

Michigan was full of fun, nature, and a sense of family (both literally and figuratively), which we were welcomed into immediately. I admired so dearly the leadership present at camp; from the Dean to the CIT’s, from the counselors to the worship and Bible study leaders, everyone there was amazing in their ability to demonstrate the family of God.

A unique thing about Brethren Heights was that it was our first experience where Bible time was sort of built off of, or continued from, our content. The message of peace was strongly desired and emphasized at Brethren Heights, a camp who hadn’t experienced the Peace Team in a long time. I was humbled to hear the conviction and passion of the leaders as they led in a continued learning experience of peace, communication, and justice. I learned so much about teaching and using my resources from the way these leaders used theirs.

Our team was somewhat nervous going into a week of elementary campers, as they were younger than our typical crowd. But we were able to see just how much these kids retained, even in the act of playing foursquare and observing how the language of that activity changed throughout the week. We were not disappointed in the slightest, and we were able to bond and connect with these campers and this staff so wonderfully.

Michigan was great, and I can’t wait to head back for our final week!

See ya’ soon,
Phoebe

Our past week was spent singing and dancing at the endless hills of Brethren heights! This was the team’s first state that was new to all of us; it didn’t disappoint. This week was full of love and laughter for all involved. And also many naps. As the end of our summer draws near, I felt fatigued and a little sick. I deeply appreciated the gracious staff that let me rest.

Sometimes, even when you feel like you aren’t at your best is when the Holy Spirit decides you are needed the most. I struggle with feeling confident in my ability to lead younger kids. I know when I was that age most things went in one ear and out the other. My mind at that point in my development was probably focused on what the clouds looked like outside or what my favorite Jonas brother was doing at the time. I also had forgotten just how it sounded to hear children communicate with others their age – far from peaceful or patient! However, it was an amazing experience to see the campers grow through the week in the smallest lessons they took from our sessions. Foursquare games got a lot friendlier when we brought up speaking to each other in love! So simple, yet a teaching most of us forget day-to-day. It is always so moving to see kids develop in ways you never expected them too. I am thankful for the patience and peace they ended up teaching me.

Another favorite part of this camp for me was to see the family values held by leadership. Being on the road and so far from home does instill a sense of homesickness. Instead of saying “homesickness,” we referenced the word “potato.” Yet just to see a mom, who was also the camp’s dean, hug her son every morning at breakfast warmed my heart. This was a week I felt the fruits of the Spirit in abundance. Thank you, Brethren Heights.

Peace,
Kiana

We have been blessed each week of this summer to be welcomed into new families and communities with open arms, and this week was no different. Listening to stories of Brethren Heights from generations past, particularly how this camp and the Church of the Brethren shaped the lives of the many volunteers who now return to work with current campers, was inspiring.

If there were two ideas we hoped to leave with the campers this week, it would have been that words are powerful and stepping out of your comfort zone is necessary. We noticed early in the week that in times of excitement, such as a foursquare match or the cabin cleaning competition, emotions often ran high and words spoken unintentionally often hurt. It was awesome to watch throughout the week as with the prompting of counselors and staff many campers began to pay attention to the way they were expressing themselves. Campers were also encouraged to get out of their comfort zones and try new things. Many tried praying in public or leading a song. Many campers realized that trying new things makes camp an even better time and that what is comfortable for one person isn’t always what is “just.”

In the words of a song adapted by Dan West:
“Beyond the hills of Michigan our unseen camper friends, now walk beside us all the way in life that never ends.”

We will remember our camper friends at Brethren Heights as well all daily seek to learn how to speak to each other in love and do justice beyond our comfort zone.

— Peace, Sara

Working with these young people was exhausting, and yet inspiring.

One moving moment was at the beginning of the week when we played “One fish, two fish.” The campers had to work together to take a water bottle from between the caller’s legs and get it back to the starting line without the caller seeing it. It took some strategizing, cooperation, communication, and teamwork, but the campers successfully completed the task after a few trials and errors.

Another awesome thing was when campers were able to share back with us important lessons that we had been teaching. Also, this camp was really big on memory verses and it was neat to see the campers retain Matthew 5:9 the best.
I’m always amazed by random conversations that are just happen, whether they happen in a car with a respected elder or around a fire with campers and counselors. This summer has been full of deep and meaningful conversations.

I’m so excited to return to Brethren Heights with their adventure senior high camp at the end of our summer!

Peace, Love, and Beavers,
Jenna

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