I have put off writing a post about our camp in Saltillo partially because I did not know if it would appeal to a wide audience and partially because it was one of those weeks that I have very mixed emotions about.
The reason we were in Monterrey a couple of weeks ago was to head up our Deaf camp in the northern part of Mexico. It is called Campamento Henson named after Missionary Ron Henson who worked many years with the Deaf in Monterrey and Guadalajara as well as many other places in Mexico. I have been the director for the last 3 years. That just means that I get to be the one to make the final decision and feel the pressure when things go wrong. For the most part, this camp just runs itself. Many of the people who go to camp have been going for more than 10 years.
This year we were in a bind in that the camp we had reserved did not have us written down for the right dates. That caused us to have to look for a new camp location. By the time I finally got one nailed down, it was well into the new year. We were very grateful for the location we were able to get
This location was nice in that it was nearer to many of the churches than we have been in the past. We had people from 11 different cities at camp. The camp site was also at 7000′ elevation. That meant that it was much cooler than we experience here at sea level in the south. They have snow 6 months out of the year in the area. Unfortunately, this is not one of those months. One night it got down to the low 50s. That is not too terribly cold, but the rooms we stayed in are not sealed for the cold weather. It was like sleeping in a tent. I think most people enjoyed the change since most everyone is experiencing much warmer summer temperatures at this time.
There were 109 campers and 7 accepted the Lord as Savior. It was a very successful week along those lines. We had churches that brought quite a few more campers this year than in the past because the distance was changed in their favor. There were almost 20 campers more this year than our previous high year of recent camps.
The camp ground that we used was well equipped for 70 people, but we had 109! There was plenty of space in the auditorium and dining areas, but there just were not enough beds. The camp is still in the process of building. They have plans for another dorm which will add 25 more beds. As it was we had several people sleeping on the floor in the dorms. Some of us slept on tables in the dining room. I am disappointed that one of our churches was not able to come, but I am also not sure where we would have housed another 20+ people.
Activities and Staff
We had some fun activities. We were able to go on a hay ride and play on a zip line. For me it was my first experience with a zip line. It was fun.
The staff at the camp was great. Though there were some struggles with the facilities being too small and not having enough water to keep us well cleaned, I cannot praise the staff enough. We have been at other locations where the staff was very helpful and we were told that if we needed anything to let them know. At this camp though, the staff stood around and said “What can I do for you right now?” A small difference, but it was very noticeable. The camp owner/director even offered to do a craft project with the campers. That was a blessing since one of our big activities each year is the daily craft. But because of some people not being able to make the trip, we did not have enough crafts planned. The camp director had no idea that we were needing help with a craft, yet he was there to step in and take up the slack just by offering.
There was not enough water. They truck in about 1500 gallons of water a day. That is cheaper than drilling their own well. But, for the number of people we had there, the amount of water was not enough.
One of our main preachers has been under the weather and was not able to come. I knew a couple weeks in advance that there was a possibility of his absence. But it was not confirmed until the day before camp started.
Another preacher informed me 3 days before that he would not be able to make it. His problem was that his transportation fell through. We were able to route some other people through his area (several hours out of their way) to pick him up and bring he and his wife. That was a huge help.
One of my teachers was not able to make it. She was going to be teaching the ladies each morning. Camp started on Monday evening. I did not know for sure until mid-morning Tuesday that she was not going to be with us.
To get the week started, I was about 2 hours late arriving at the camp ground because the group I was riding with had a van break down. That 2 hours was something that I struggled all week to recover. It seemed to never happen. We have mostly done well in the past with keeping things on schedule and getting the activities started on time. Starting everything late on the first night set the atmosphere for the week. Most of the services started 5 to 20 minutes late. When you are trying to pack in as many events as you can in a short period of time, it is important that you keep things on schedule. Many of the speakers are used to preaching in their churches where there is no time limit, but unfortunately we have to set limits while at camp. It was not unusual for me to have to stand at the back of the auditorium and signal to a preacher that he had to cut it short because he overshot his time by 30+ minutes. Personally, if I cannot say what I want to say in 30 minutes, then I am trying to say too much. When you preach for more than an hour and still have to be cut off by the man in charge, then you are definitely trying to say too much.
There were some stressful times trying to adjust the schedule for all the changes.
We were also several hundred dollars short on being able to pay for the camp. This is something we have never had a problem with since I have been running the camp. But through a long series of events here and there, we ended up short. Fortunately, God showed His hand of control and power and we were able to leave the camp owing nothing.
It was a very mixed bag of emotions throughout the week. Some very wonderful things took place as well as some tough and stressful events. Fortunately there were no life threatening issues that we had to deal with. I have gone through that before, and it is not an experience a camp director ever wants to repeat.
Next year I will not be in the country to work out all the details of camp. I am still planning to be very involved, but am glad to push some of the detailed responsibility off on one of the national pastors. I will be at camp to deal with problems and inevitable crises, but when things go right I will be able to point to the national and thank him for the great work he did leading into camp.
From a final result point of view, the camp was extremely successful. From my point of view I went into this camp the least organized I have ever been. The fact that it was pulled off so well is a testament to the great national pastors and missionaries who have been doing it so long they just rolled with the punches. I am personally embarassed by the behind the scenes mess that I seemed to constantly struggle with, but am thankful that no one but me really saw the fragility of my house of cards. I have kept you in the dark on so many other issues that I did not even cover in this post..
I thank God we were able to see 7 people saved and church people encouraged to go home and have a stronger personal relationship with the Lord.