Updated: Jan 11
As a child I was always a homebody. I recall being hesitant to even go to a friend’s house to spend the night. When I was about twelve the idea of me going to an overnight camp for a few weeks in North Carolina was floated at the kitchen table. I made it abundantly clear that I had no desire to go to a summer camp for weeks. Our home was on a lake in Florida, the beach was 45 minutes away, all my friends were nearby—-why in the world would I want to leave paradise to go the mountains with a bunch of strange people?
How ironic that I founded and now operate a summer camp for kids (in North Carolina) and that I am tasked with reassuring first time campers that they will like camp! Yet, I would also confess much of what I have put into this camp reflects my desire to be sure that a child does not feel surrounded by strangers, and that he or she comes to see this as his or her private paradise.
But what made this camp unique, from our first year, was the foreign campers that came. First, two brothers came from Spain—-the Palacios. They were a novelty for the campers and staff that came North Carolina or Florida. But the next year the Seuge children came from Paris, and then staff from Venezuela, and before long the camp became a miniature Miami International Airport—-and it’s wonderful.
Our camp is full of girls and boys, from dozens of Christian backgrounds, representing most of the world. Some come from very affluent homes, others attend on scholarship. Truly, it’s an example of the Kingdom of God, and I remind people that the campers and staff are purposefully not of one culture, tongue, color, nationality or gender, “This is heaven on earth—-let’s embrace the diversity and creativity of our God.” We were all made unique, precious and special in His eyes—-and that’s how every child at the camp must be treated at The Vineyard.
So imagine a place where everyone is esteemed as exceptional and treated like one of God’s favorites—because they are. And envision the same environment being fun-filled, educational and, in terms of it’s natural surrounding, stunning. That is our camp and that is why so many people from very, very away trust their children to our care —it’s why people frequently tell us that one week at camp changed—-and in some cases even saved— their lives.
Your prayers for our mission, and the protection, education and well-being of campers and staff is greatly appreciated! The Vineyard is truly a holy haven.