A Typical Day at Kids Camp
A version of this post originally appeared in the July 2018 SEAPC Magazine.
It started in 2006, sponsored and led by the Church of Singapore Bukit Timah. There were less than 200 children from seven homes. There may have been about 275 total people in attendance. Since then, it has happened every two years and is due to happen again this August. What are we talking about? NHO Kids Camp.
The growth of NHO has resulted in a growth of camp; in number of people, overall expense and logistics. This year there will be almost 500 children from 15 homes. With all of the staff, staff families, and volunteers— both national and international —there will be approximately 800 people attending. There are seven teams and various individuals, representing at least six different countries, traveling to Cambodia to help. There are so many people that not everyone can fit at the same hotel, which has happened for the past few camps. The kids and home staff have stayed at one location and everyone else has slept at other hotels or guest houses and traveled to where the kids are every day.
As it has become larger, more complicated, and more expensive, some people have questioned the reasoning for having Kids Camp. Some have suggested smaller, more local camps. To these, we still say no. The reason is that camp is a great blessing to these kids. It shows them that they are treasured because we go through the effort and expense. Just imagine what that knowledge does for someone who has been orphaned, abandoned, or in a situation where they felt unloved before moving to the children’s home.
So, what does NHO Kids Camp look like? It is really quite similar to most summer Bible camps that many attended as kids. The big difference is that it happens at the beach in Cambodia and that the children (or their families) are not paying to attend. The children wake up anywhere from 5 to 6:30 a.m., depending on their room leaders. They may or may not have their normal morning devotions while at camp. They shower and get dressed for the day. Everyone gathers for breakfast around 8 a.m. Once breakfast is finished, everyone goes to the big conference room for morning worship. We worship together, celebrating the new day that God has given us.
After morning worship (around 9:30 a.m.), everyone splits up into different age groups and head to their designated areas for biblical teaching. The volunteer teams work very hard to plan teachings, crafts, and activities that are age appropriate and relevant to Cambodian Christian culture. Then, everyone gathers again for lunch.
After lunch, everyone changes into their beach clothing and heads to the beach for the afternoon. While at the beach, kids play in the water or in the sand, hang out in beach chairs and talk, purchase food or small trinkets from beach vendors, and have fun. Around 4 p.m., everyone packs up and heads back to the hotels to clean up for dinner. We gather for dinner around 6 p.m. At 7 p.m., it is time for the evening worship service. This is a special time. Every night, several homes give “performances” that they have been preparing for months. It could be a cultural dance, a dance to a Christian song, a song they sing, or a small skit. Every home gets their chance to share with everyone else. Then, everyone worships the Lord together and hears from a special speaker for the night.
Afterwards, everyone goes to their rooms and prepares for bed. Although I’ve never been in a room with the kids (not allowed for their safety and ours), I’m sure that many are staying up late, talking about what happened during the day, some are eating snacks, some are still playing, and some have fallen fast asleep after spending so much energy that day. For me, I am usually one of those ready to fall fast asleep but have also spent that time getting a late-night snack or talking.
The biggest deviation from this schedule for camp occurs on the last day. It is baptism day. This day, when everyone arrives at the beach, there is a short ceremony discussing baptism and then everyone who wants to be baptized is baptized by team leaders in the water.
I hope that this has given you a better understanding of NHO Kids Camp. It is an awesome experience that happens every other year. The kids always talk about it and look forward to the next one, saving any money they can get to purchase their snacks and trinkets.
Many things are needed for camp but the most important thing needed is prayer. Please join us in praying for the camp. Pray that all funding comes together. Pray that all teaching comes together and is Spirit-breathed to the children and staff. Pray that all volunteers have safe travel and good health. Pray for safe travel for the kids and staff to and from the camp. Pray that God’s blessing and the Holy Spirit will pour on each and every person who is there and that the camp will be a witness of Him to everyone in the surrounding area.