“Youth Camp” in a time of pandemic
In April 2021 I realized that for a second summer I would be the big, bad youth director that told our kids and youth that we wouldn’t be able to go to summer camp. Although we provide Sunday school, youth group, and other youth events during the year, there’s no denying that summer camp is the pinnacle youth experience at Hope. Our kids wait all year to pack their bags and carpool to go up to Mt. Cross Ministries in Felton, or Calvin Crest Conferences in Oakhurst to experience a special connection with nature, God, and each other. I put on my creativity cap (which, if I may mention, is quite worn out after 2020-2021!) and started to think of an outdoor event that might help youth and their families experience some of the fun of camp.
Each Thursday in July 2021 from 6-8pm, families of Hope and The Learning Tree preschool came for Campfire Worship. We started with camp activities like friendship bracelets or a water balloon toss. We built a small fire and began worship together, led by volunteers on guitar and our associate pastor, kids in the congregation, and me. It was a new experience for all, and there was a bit of trouble shooting when the heat in Fresno was extra spicy, and we adjusted some activities for COVID safety. But there is nothing like the smell of a campfire and the voices of youth and families singing “Here I am Lord”. It was a fun and more intimate worship experience! Christiana Slater, Director of Children’s Ministries, Hope Lutheran in Fresno, CA