Category Archives: Camp Victory

Operation Freedom – Mission Log

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

1:30 pm – The Camp Victory interns leave their apartments and head to camp. Luckily the Freedom interns have already left. Otherwise they might have questioned Pipes’ completely black outfit or Dallas’ dress shirt and blazer. (The SWAT Team and Spy Team leaders have to look the part.) As it is, they suspect nothing.

2:30 pm – The plan has been perfected. The staff are just gathering their materials. Synchronizing walkie-talkies, gathering ropes, checking over the fake registration forms… preparing snack. (Cookies and juice boxes are a necessary commodity when your teams consist of 7-10 year olds.)

4:00 pm – The children have arrived. The excitement level is at a new high. Trip forms are collected. Only eleven children have made it through the rigorous training week to embark on our adventure today. Eleven children. Eight leaders. SWAT Team leader Hoopz steps forward:

“CAMP VICTORY!”

YES CAPTAIN!

“WHAT IS OUR MISSION?”

GET KUYA!”

4:30 pm – Camp Victory boards the first bus on their journey to Camp Freedom. Juice boxes and cookies ensue.

4:55 pm – Camp Victory boards the second bus, now only minutes away from their goal.

5:00 pm – They file off the bus and start to march in formation. Camp Freedom is within sight. The leaders warn them to ‘look casual’. “Try not to look like a camp!”, “Oh wow, if they look out those windows…”, “Look at us, we just scream CAMP VICTORY.” One SWAT team member is overcome with excitement and does in fact scream “CAMP VICTORY”.

5:06 pm – The group arrives at their meeting place. A bridge on Driftwood Ave. They need only turn left and walk approximately two minutes to arrive behind Camp Freedom. We split into our teams.

Rumour and Snoopy stand with two children. These children were especially chosen for their incredible acting abilities and the fact that the Camp Freedom staff will not recognize them. Code names: Kimberly and James. They will walk directly into the action.

In their pockets: Fake Camp Freedom registration forms and an emergency walkie-talkie.

They are the Diversion Team, they will attempt to become a part of Camp Freedom.

Dallas and Bartowski also stand with two children. The only two to make it through their training. They will enter, but must not be seen.

In their pockets: Walkie-talkies, binoculars… and a whole lot of stealth.

They are the Spy Team, they will sneak in and find Freedom’s supervisor: Kuya.

Pipes and Hoopz stand with the rest. Seven kids. Will that be enough to capture Kuya? No one is sure.

In their hands: Ropes and all the strength that a week of intense training can offer.

They are the SWAT Team, they will complete our mission. They will GET KUYA.

5:12 pm – Victory is behind Camp Freedom. Pressed against a brick wall. They are ready. If the excitement level was high back at their camp… Well I can’t even think of a word to describe it now.

5:13 pm – The Diversion team is going in. They run down the alley to the front of the building. The leaders ask if they will run around the fence, or climb over it. The brave young ones decide to climb. The leaders cannot go further, if they are seen, the operation is ruined. As the Diversion team disappears their leaders run back to the group, turn on their walkie-talkie and wait with some degree of nervousness.

5:20 pm – Double Agent George has been contacted. The side door is opened and the spy team is going in. Their leader brings them to the door and gives last minute instructions. They run straight to the washrooms as planned. They then go on their search for Kuya. Now our only contact is over walkie-talkie.

5:23 pm – The SWAT team leaders are listening intently to the walkie-talkies. The spies have found him, but what are they saying? As soon as the words “The Fireside Room” are heard the SWAT team moves forward. They run into the building, this time the leaders follow.

The SWAT team hesitates as they see their target in person. His confusion grows as he starts to realize that Camp Victory is in his building. Finally one of the members runs forward and the rest follow. It’s a difficult task but with some prompting from Victory’s supervisor Kuya is captured.

The spies are retrieved from their hiding place. The Diversion team didn’t make it into program, but they were not recognized, and Kuya was fooled.

Camp Victory says a peaceful “Hello” to a slightly confused Camp Freedom, takes a group picture, and departs.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

[Camp Victory out]

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Switching Modes.

I like it when I’m in blog writing mode. When I’m in blog writing mode my eyes are open and I’m searching for what God’s doing every day in my life. That mode has been turned off for awhile now.

I wonder if it’s because after the closing of Camp Peace I shifted into a sort of survival mode.  So focused on getting through each day that I haven’t been paying as much attention to my wonderful Lord as I desperately need to be. He is after all what gets me through each day.

Yesterday, I told a fellow that I work with that it was of unfortunate and difficult circumstance that I came to work with him. Not that it was unfortunate and difficult to work with him… Just that the events that brought me there had been.

He looked for a second as if he was about to argue with me and then he paused and said, “We’ll talk about it in about three years.”

I thought it would take years for me to understand too. I wasn’t sure I’d ever really understand why God would let Camp Peace close.

I’ll probably never understand everything that God was doing. But still only a couple months later I can see the immense good that He’s been doing in my life – and that just strengthens my knowledge that He will use this for the good of my kids too. My Peace kids, and my Victory kids.

The kids of Camp Victory have been through a lot of change and a lot of difficult and seemingly unfortunate things this year as well. How fortunate that I could join the team that was working so hard to show them that even when they feel abandoned and confused there’s a God who loves them and is NEVER going to leave them.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

-Psalm 139: 11, 12


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Rejoicing in Heaven (Part 2)

In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.

– Luke 5:10

First be sure to read Part 1

After awhile I started to wonder where Pipes was. I stuck my head in the office then backed out awkwardly as three individuals who looked rather busy and were not Erin Pipes looked up at me.

“She’s still in WordUp!” I thought to myself, and I began to pray for the Spirit to guide her words as I walked quickly towards the area of the room where her Bible class had been.

Sure enough she was sitting around a desk with two kids, reading from Matthew and explaining the words to the children. On a whiteboard above the desk there was that cliff diagram of how we’re separated from God and need to go through Jesus to get to him.

As I listened I praised God for the words He was giving her. Soon enough they caught me looking in and had a small argument about whether they should send me away or let me join in. It was looking like I would return to basketball when the kids finally decided I could sit in on their lesson.

She later told me that it had all started when the little boy of the group had said that he sinned every day so he was going to Hell. Just trying to get a rise out of her surely. Instead he said the conversation in motion and she was able to reveal Truth to him and the little girl who was with them.

There I was able to witness two more children being lead to Christ.

While they were praying my WordUp boys ran over, throwing their coats on. The little boy seemed a bit embarrassed so I mouthed, “They’re praying just like you did!”

“KEEP PRAYING!” one of them yelled.

Afterwards I ran off with the three boys telling them how the angels were dancing in Heaven because they’d found Jesus. Pipes stayed and talked awhile longer with the little girl.

Then they all headed home.

Later in our meeting we prayed for them all.
I hope so deeply that those seeds were in good soil and that their roots will grow deep.

Pipes and I talked about it with great excitement on our way home. It’s amazing how God decides to work in the midst of chaos. When we’re at the end of ourselves and don’t feel like we have anything to give. So that we can see, it’s Him, it’s not us.

Looking back, what seemed like chaos at the time was His perfect plan. I can see His hand sending each child to where He needed them. Even the three in the middle group who weren’t quite ready and needed to be where they were.  I’m sure He taught them each something special.

His Spirit was so present on that day.
On polar opposite sides of a very large room, he worked in four little hearts that are incredibly precious to Him.

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Rejoicing in Heaven (Part 1)

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

-Psalm 139: 7-10

I haven’t been writing much lately.

When  I first started writing these I was really knew what I was doing at camp, I’d been doing it for a year. Now I’m somewhere new and every day I’m sorting new things out.

There is however a story I need to tell you and I’m surprised that my excitement didn’t cause me to communicate it sooner:

Honestly it’s all a bit of a blur.

The story starts with a bit of chaos. Our supervisor-of-the-day Boomerang was watching expectedly for us to split the children amongst ourselves for small Bible study  groups. None of us wanted to. All three of us just looked at each other with ‘Why don’t YOU do it’ type looks. They were getting restless. But none of us were giving in.

Finally Pipes heard one of the kids say ‘Just number us!’, and so she did. “1,2,3, 1,2,3, 1. Ones with Dallas, twos with Rumour, threes with me, Let’s go!”

More chaos ensued. They didn’t like their groups. They followed whichever friends they wanted to be with to whichever leader they chose. I stood there with no kids wishing I’d paid a bit of attention to which kids were twos. Finally I saw that Dallas had three and Pipes had four so I grabbed two confused looking boys from Pipes’ group and sent them to the other side of the opening room.

We sat down in a small circle of chairs and thankfully our streetleader, Bartowski, joined our group.

We had been talking in the large group about compassion. Now we would look at how much God values us by reading bits of Psalm 139. Hoping that the kids would see how much God loves them, and how much He loves everyone else as well.

We were passing my Bible in a circle each reading a couple of verses. One little fellow even paused after, “You know what I am going to say…” long enough for me to cut in with “EVEN BEFORE I SAY IT!” (Don’t worry folks, no super human powers there, I just knew the verse.)

Every once in awhile we’d stop and discuss what we were reading.

As is very common with one of the boys from my group, the topic of Heaven kept coming up. I was trying to stick to my point so I was trying to avoid all of the way out in space type questions. But eventually one question came up that I just wouldn’t brush off. I can’t remember the exact wording, but he asked how I could know I was going to Heaven. I told him there was a choice. He asked if you choose when you die. I told him that would be too late. You need to choose to follow Jesus while you’re alive, why else would you get to be with Him later?

They both new a lot about the Bible. We talked about salvation. We talked about asking Jesus to lead your life. We talked about believing in your heart and confessing with your mouth. Bartowski stressed how important it is to really believe what you’re saying.

So there they were, these two little boys in front of me with their eyes squeezed shut and hands pressed tightly together mouthing silent prayers asking God to be in their lives. I couldn’t help but think that that Heaven obsessed little guy had said that prayer before, but I had hope that he would now realize the finality behind it. When they were done I asked if I could pray for them and so I did.

We talked awhile longer before realizing that our time was up and heading out to continue the game of basketball I’d been watching them play.

After awhile I started to wonder where Pipes was. I stuck my head in the office then backed out awkwardly as three individuals who looked rather busy and were not Erin Pipes looked up at me.

“She’s still in WordUp!” I thought to myself, and I began to pray for the Spirit to guide her words as I walked quickly towards the area of the room where her Bible class had been…

So two wonderful little boys prayed for salvation. But our God wasn’t done there. I’ll fill you in on the rest of what He was doing tomorrow.

Continue to Part 2

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I guess I forgot…

…how easy it is to fall in love with a group of amazing children.

I wonder if I’ll ever run into a group of children that I wouldn’t label ‘amazing’. I suppose if God continues to give me His eyes for them… well He made them amazing didn’t He?

Yesterday Pipes and I went to pick up three kids from their school. One of them said he wasn’t feeling good so we brought him home, while leaving the community we ran into three of our kids going in the wrong direction. The sillies were confused and thought that there was no camp. So we turned them around and all walked to camp together.

I was walking with a little girl. A rough and tough little girl. She’s actually really sweet, in the right there under the surface kind of way. She told me that she’d been yelling too much so her voice was really quiet, so she wouldn’t be as loud as usual. We agreed that we’d get water when we got to camp. Then she told me that our shoes matched, they were both checkered:

“Yours are black and orange checkers, and mine are black and white checkers, and I’m black and you’re white!”

I concluded that we would have to be checker buddies.

Later I got to help a little grade 4 boy with some math homework. He was just as into math as I’ve always been. Not at all. He didn’t really get it. I can remember that frustration, I told him about how I used to cry as my mom tried to help me with my math when I was little. He worked hard. I’m proud of him.

We split up into boys and girls and taught the story of Daniel and the Lions Den.

When camp was over one of my boy’s basketballs was locked in the storage room so I got it out for him then we started to play. If we’d been keeping score he would have beaten me, but we weren’t. When his dad came I ran over to give him a letter and introduce myself. The little guy was reprimanded for not being ready when he knew what time his dad would arrive. I told his dad it was probably my fault, his son was helping improve my basketball skills. He was a really nice guy. It was neat.

It was just a neat day.

One of those days filled with ‘moments’.

The special kind.

Victory kids are great. As we debriefed after camp we would be talking about how a certain kid did that day and then I’d look around and we’d all just be smiling to ourselves. Really, you would just say the name of any kid and you could see the love on everyone’s faces as they thought of that child’s little quirks and behaviours.

God’s been working in my heart towards Victory for quite awhile actually. On that awful day when the four AP interns sat together and heard the news of our camps closing the only thing I heard that I could feel peace in was that I was at Victory. I can remember, “Yeah, I love Victory. If it’s not Peace it has to be Victory.”

I thought at first that it would be discouraging watching how the kids are closer to the Pipes and Johannes. Pipes having been there over a year and a half and Johannes since October. Really it’s just a natural reminder that I can love these kids, but I put my time into another group of kids too.

I’m learning to stop worrying about it all and to just do my best in the place God has put me.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. -Colossians 3:23-24

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Honestly, My life would suck without you.

I’ve been singing the words in that title as a prayer for the past couple of days. They’re from a Kelly Clarkson song, but none of the other words actually apply to the situation, so I stick to those ones.

Only a couple days ago I finally got over the pain of losing my camp enough to start to realize something: I miss my kids. A lot.

Every so often my thoughts start to wander into all the wrong places and a simple but dangerous phrase comes to mind: “Life Sucks!” My cynical nature tends to rise up, and I decide to agree. “Well yes, that’s right, it sure does!”

But I always remember a particular day that I was taught otherwise, and I’m forced to change that opinion:

The whole group was sitting around a couple of tables just finishing off their Fun Day Friday meal. One of the little Peace boys abruptly stated that phrase that I’m always tempted to believe: “Life sucks!”

I don’t think I was going to say anything about it… At least I held back from agreeing.

But one of my boys who had found Christ about a year prior corrected him: “No, life doesn’t suck, because of Jesus.”

You’re right my little friend. Not only does it not suck, it’s actually pretty awesome now that I come to think of it.  Because of Jesus.

The Victory kids are amazing. That camp is full of personality. If there’s a shy one amongst them I have yet to meet him. (I wouldn’t be surprised if there actually is… It wouldn’t be hard to hide in that group!)

I miss my Peace kids, and I hope to see them soon. I am however happy to be getting to know the kids of Camp Victory. My knowledge of children tells me that I’ll have many a quote for you soon. And my knowledge of God tells me that these kids will teach me a lot, just like the kids at Peace did. Maybe I’ll even have a few more children telling me just how far life is, in fact, from sucking.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know, I know, I know He holds the future.
And life is worth the living just because He lives.


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