Every summer our campus lights up for two weeks when it gets transformed into summer camp!
Camp Imagine not only enhances the life of campers, but everyone involved. Three of our Counselors from last year reflect on their experience.
Katie: co-coordinator of Camp Imagine (Team Purple/Rainbow!)
“Yellow yellow is the best!”
“Jesus is the light!”
“Papillon, papillon!” (butterfly, butterfly!)
These are chants that sprinkle the orphanage and the town of Despinos each July thanks to Camp Imagine. I can’t believe we just completed the 5th summer camp that started out as just an idea in the late spring of 2014. During my first trip to Haiti, I sat at the long wooden table in the team house one evening listening to a brainstorming session between director Melissa and my friend Lauren. Lauren had been asked by Tanya Robinson to help jump-start her incredible dream to create a summer camp for the children at Imagine Missions. Having just entered the country, I sat soaking in the visions Lauren had of summer camp fun like team cheers and games and the hopes Melissa expressed about an educational aspect, so the children would continue to learn all summer.
God has been blessing Camp Imagine since the summer it started, and each year camp has grown and evolved. Our first summer was tricky; we were ‘under-staffed’ (just 8 American counselors) and the children did not have any understanding of what ‘camp’ meant. The next year, we brought more counselors, involved our Haitian peers more, and were pleasantly surprised at how the kids cheered for their camp groups (‘yellow yellow is the best!’) right off the bat! The third summer, Lauren worked her tail off creating a service-based experience for our older group, who loved the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the community and rose to the occasion.
Last year, we felt like we hit our stride with a hit ‘theme song’, obstacle courses for days (including one that mimicked spelunking in a cave!), and a field trip to Papillon Enterprise for our older group. And this year, we found that camp has grown so popular- with so many incredible community participants- that we may need TWO camps next year!
God is blessing Imagine Missions, and God continues to bless Camp Imagine. So keep your eyes and ears open for more information about Camp Imagine 2019-- it will come sooner than we think, and if the first five camps have shown us anything, it is sure to be some of the most fulfilling fun you’ve ever had!
Makayla: fourth-time Camp Imagine Counselor (Team Yellow!)
I have been a part of Camp Imagine since it started five years ago. The very first year of camp, I went in blind, unsure of what was going on and what was expected of me. Luckily, over the years, I have mastered the plans and have learned the greatest life lesson: nothing will go according to plan, but everything will go according to God’s plan, and His plan will flourish in the lives of so many people.
Each year, there is a theme, a plan, and of course a few songs that are attached with camp. This year, we focused on papillon, which means butterfly in Haitian Creole. Though the kids learned how change is inevitable and sometimes takes time, I couldn’t help but process the change of Camp Imagine and how it turned to a butterfly over the course of five years. The very first year, the eggs were laid. No one knew what camp was going to be or how it was going to go.
The next year I went, in 2016, the eggs hatched into a caterpillar. Our original 8 team members at least doubled. More hands were able to work together for the glory of God, which meant that the kids were able to experience more amazing things. The past two years have been no different. Even though the teams change from year-to-year, the energy, love, and success of camp is never-changing, because our God is always present.
My favorite things that have grown over the course of five years are 1) the outreach program and 2) the overall growth of our kids. The last few years, we have taken the kids out into the community to give away sandwiches and a variety of others thing to people within the community. The kids love it, and watching them give back to the community and be excited to do so is something so special.
Over the last five years, we have increased our numbers too. Not only is camp provided for our Imagine kids but kids from a few other orphanages and even kids from the community. It’s amazing to see them all come into one place to worship God and learn a few things about themselves and God’s plan for them.
Another year of camp has come and gone. The difficulty of returning home has never gotten easier, but you can bet that the countdown is on and soon enough, another year of Camp Imagine will roll around. This camp, these kids, and the outreach that comes along with it is one of the most amazing experiences I have been a part of. I can’t wait to continue to see camp grow over the coming years. It’s been a blessing to be a part of it, and a part of the kids’ lives.
Holly: first-time Camp Imagine Counselor (Team Green!)
Hi Imagine Family! My name is Holly and I want to take you on a journey of my experiences during my first time at Camp Imagine 2018. First, I want you to envision a book you’ve read since forever. Everytime you open that book you read what you know to be true, but also feel that there is so much more that The Lord wants you to venture out as you read.
Chapter one - One day in class, my camp team- Team Green- had finished all of our assignments for the day early. Being a former preschool teacher, my inner “Oh no we still have time to fill what do we do with them!!” started kicking in. I started scrolling through my music trying to find a children's song I had downloaded. (Because what is WiFi at the orphanage, really?) The only one I had downloaded is called “Big God Story.” The song is teaching the children that THEY have a specific role in His story. I turned the song on and began teaching our class the motions to the song. Because music and dancing is life in Haiti, the kids caught on to the motions very quickly and began singing the song back to me. In that moment I felt like God literally pulled me back to see what He was seeing.
As the kids were singing I was seeing them the way The Lord sees them. I didn’t see their circumstances or the dusty classroom desks, I saw Jesus. I saw beauty, grace, peace, love, joy, kindness, and an overwhelming sense of contentment on their faces. The Lord began showing me that a similar story that I have been part of in America is happening in Haiti too. His little precious children made in His image are stepping into their roles in Haiti and it’s a beautiful site to see. And He wanted me to be part of His Haiti chapter in their lives that week.
Camp Imagine was just a little glimpse of the story God is telling at Imagine Missions. I have been a part of teaching kids the “Big God Story” song for years- many times at Christmas programs with stage lights shining, microphones blasting, and the lyrics on a screen. But this time was more impactful to me. I got to read a chapter I didn't know existed yet. It’s the chapter we all “know” is there, but sometimes don’t get to read because it’s not in our everyday reach. Just thinking about that sweet moment brings my heart so much joy.
The fact that the God of all the universe chose to take this Kansas City gal all the way to Haiti so she could see with her own eyes the story He is continuing somewhere else is impactful in my walk with Jesus. The Lord wants to do the same for you. He wants to bring you to a place where His hand is continuing to write The Big God Story somewhere other than your backyard and He wants to introduce you to His main characters. Let me tell you He has the sweetest little cast I have ever seen. Come be apart of the story He is writing in Haiti and join us for Camp Imagine 2019. Your role is waiting for you.