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Walking under boughs of pine, beach towels hang from railings, with swimming trunks and suits draped to dry, perched on pegs, a dropped sock forgotten in the dirt lies unintentionally trampled by energetic bodies racing to the pool.

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A stray Nerf dart, remnant of a past game, remains trapped high above in the branches. Giant checkerboards and rough wood discs in dueling colors sit on picnic tables waiting for the next challenge. Swings dangle or sway gently, tempting passersby to escape, to glide through the air, leaving everyday cares to float away.

Cooks and servers and dishwashers clang pots in the kitchen before each meal, humming, singing a tune from Disney, with words to uplift scripted on the board: By His grace. For His glory. Learning to lead while learning to serve, filling pitchers with water or juice, placing condiments on tables. A jumble of fruit awaits in a large bowl. Outside, aromas of bacon or burgers or fresh-baked cookies and bread hover in the air near the dining hall, enticing campers and staff. Finally the gong is rung, calling everyone to come and eat.

Later, where games are played, lightweight plastic balls soar back and forth across the green table, and solid balls roll between inanimate feet of miniature molded soccer players on another table. A budding musician pounds black and white keys from his limited repertoire, and those in the room are serenaded by strains of The Entertainer, Fur Elise, a wistful tune from Yiruma, or the theme from those Pirates movies.

With hatchets and saw blades, rifles and bows and arrows, the kids try their hand at aiming for the smallest circle on a distant target. Some whoop and holler when their aim hits the mark. Others shrug and move on to the next activity, hoping for a shot at victory somewhere else.

Building bridges of plastic pipes across the pool to send the beach ball across, water-gun battles on horseback, 9-square-in-the-air volleyball, overnight camping and breakfast around the campfire, high ropes obstacle courses—all designed for skill-building, teamwork and growing their faith.

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In Chapel everyone comes together for spiritual recharge. Songs and skits and stories and laughter, and learning how God’s principles apply to life not only two or four or six thousand years ago, but how His words give power to readers in every era.

This is the time and this is the place for making new friends, for tightening bonds with old friends, for making decisions and discovering how much God cares about goofy, awkward, insecure, sweaty, hungry, hyper, sensitive kids. Because He wants to use them to make a difference in their generation.

And suddenly it’s the last full day. Less than twenty-four hours left. While playing games and swimming one more time they squeeze in a few more memories to take home with them, before saying Good-bye.

 

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