Thursday, November 6, 2014

Camp Canaan

Imagine growing up and never being able to go on holidays or to a camp? In North America this is almost unheard of as many people go on holidays not just once but several times a year. Most children and young people also have opportunities to go to a camp for several days. It is so common that we often do not think twice about it. It is part of our life and it is something we expect to do each year. However, in countries like Guatemala the reality of many families is much different. For many the closest things to getting away from home is going to a coffee or sugar cane plantation to work for several weeks or months or going once in a while to a bigger village or city to see family. Many parents of children in Guatemala do not have the resources to go on holidays or even to get away for a little while.
One of the wonderful blessings that AMG offers the children (grade 5 and up) in their schools and centers is a chance to attend 5 days of camp each year. The 40 acre camp, called Canaan, is located in a beautiful location some 45 minutes west of Guatemala City. The camp boasts many amenities like cabins, chapel, hall, soccer fields, basketball court, trampoline, and a swimming pool (which is freezing cold!). Although the amenities are great, the people who minister there are the ones that make the camp excellent. Jose Luis and Ofra are a couple who have been ministering at the camp for many years and they have a heart for the kids who attend. Together with other staff they minister to thousands of kids each year. Over the the 30 plus years that the camp has been around they have ministered to tens of thousands of kids. When I visit projects the kids all talk about the camp and how they look forward to going each year. Many of these kids will tell you that the camp experience and the mentoring they received from the staff impacted them for eternity. The camp even has a special place in the hearts of those students and alumni who are not saved. About a year ago we had our first alumni meeting and we decided to hold it at the camp. Several hundred alumni attended and some even traveled from the States just to be able to spend a day at the camp. Many were crying as they walked on campus and saw the staff. Some literally kissed the ground! The camp ministry meant so much to them and had an impact on their lives.
When we handed the education project in Cubulco over to AMG in 2013, one of our reasons and desires for doing that was to be able to offer the camp experience to some of the children in our center and schools in the aldeas. However, because of financial constraints we were not able to include the camp expense in our budget of 2013. When preparing the budget for 2014 we looked at the camp  again and decided that it was important to include it in the budget and to see if we could get churches to support this part of the ministry. Although the response was limited, we had several churches and young people groups donate money to cover some of the camp expenses. As a result, we were able to send our first group of students to the camp this past August. Ten students from a junior high school that we support in the community of Patuy (1 hour by car and a 3 hour hike away from Cubulco) were given the opportunity to attend the camp. They were there together with other AMG students from other parts of Guatemala and the kids really enjoyed their time. They played games, sports, interacted with other students, performed chores, and were encouraged to spend time in the Word of God and prayer. They were counseled and mentored in walking in the Way. I had the privilege to spend a half day with them and interact with them. 
Our plan was to send a second group of kids in September, but because the week fell during the Independence Day celebrations many schools had activities which interfered with the schedule. It would have meant that the kids would only be able to attend for 2 days. I suggested, therefore, that they postpone the trip until a further date so that the kids could enjoy the full experience. The trip has been rescheduled for January of 2015.

 However, we need your help to make the camp experience possible. We need individuals and churches to come on board in order to be able to raise the necessary funds. The cost for a child from Cubulco to attend the camp is around $40 for five days plus another $15 for transportation. It is at least a 5 hour trip from Cubulco to get to the camp. Our goal is to send up to 75 kids to the camp each year ($4100 US). If we would not had the cancellation of the second group we would have sent around 55 children to camp this year. As of now we have a little over $2,000 committed and it would be great if we could get a few more churches on board to be able to make up the difference. If there is anyone interested in helping out you can send a check to:
Peter Luth
RR 7
10318 Claymore Line,
Dresden, ON
N0P 1M0
Make sure you indicate on the cheque that it is for Camp Canaan.