Family fun at camp
By Major Pauline Dressler, Major Sally Warren, and Lisa Collier
Several divisions in the USA Eastern Territory held annual family camps last month as summer dwindled and people sought a last chance to have fun in the sun before schools reopened.
In the Greater New York (GNY) Division, almost 1,000 people gathered at Star Lake Camp. The theme for the Aug. 25-27 weekend was “Jubilee” and the event was a celebration of 100 years of ministry at Star Lake Camp.
The event started with an alumni dinner as the past and current staff of Star Lake celebrated its ministry and history with a letter from retired Commissioner Israel L. Gaither, a sharing of memories, and a devotional thought from retired Commissioner James M. Knaggs.
On Friday evening, everyone capped off the festivities with a spirit-filled worship gathering.
By Saturday morning, the full complement of delegates had arrived. Many people had traveled by bus from New York City. The worship gathering started with the “Star Lake 100” video presentation, which emphasized the vital ministry that has occurred at camp these past 100 years and the lives that have been changed. Commissioner Mark W. Tillsley presented the word about the faithfulness of God, and many responded by praying.
Saturday afternoon was filled with camp activities—including a coffee bar for alumni to gather and catch up with each other. They buried a time capsule to celebrate the 100th year. Delegates were encouraged to add a card about their camp memories to the capsule. The capsule also included other timely items such as a newspaper, historical camp gear, and mementos from the weekend.
The afternoon worship gathering began with a procession of corps sergeant majors (CSM) and the cadets of the Champions of the Mission session, each led by their corps officers and flags. The CSM position was explained, and the corps officers placed soldier loops on their CSMs.
Delegates celebrated and prayed for Cadet Jean Claude Patrice, Cadet Andremene Patrice, and Cadet Natalia Pizzarusso who will as they begin their officer training. Commissioner Tillsley presented the word from Isaiah 52:7-12 in a sermon entitled “Champions of Mission.” Many people responded enthusiastically to God’s word.
The Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware Division (PENDEL) family camp, from Aug. 25-27, kicked off on Friday evening with more than 700 delegates gathered for an outdoor festival, which included live entertainment from corps and divisional groups, as well as Unbound. There were food trucks and plenty of activities for families to enjoy.
Greetings from Territorial Leaders Commissioners G. Lorraine and William A. Bamford, and Divisional Leaders Lt. Colonels Janet and Larry Ashcraft concluded the festivities.
Saturday morning’s united worship challenged delegates to move beyond perceived barriers, such as cultural or language differences. Saturday afternoon allowed time to enjoy camp activities as well as conversations at “turquoise tables” placed around camp.
The day concluded with another united session that included the farewell to the cadets and teaching on how God works beyond our understanding.
The cadet testimonies supported the theme as they explained how God was faithful to supply their needs when they were faithful in their tithing, despite not knowing how they were going to buy essential items such as food or diapers.
Sunday morning included a united Sunday school, corps prayer groups, and a challenge on the theme “Beyond Our Walls.” Commissioner William A. Bamford, territorial commander, urged campers to go into their communities to spread the gospel message. During the prayer time, corps groups were presented with maps of their communities and asked to pray for the residents. They were also challenged to come up with a two-to-three-word phrase to put at the exit of their chapel to remind them of the ministry that is beyond the walls of the corps building.
In the fall, officers from divisional headquarters will present the completed boards to the corps during a holiness meeting. A sample board reads, “In their welcome letter to the delegates, our divisional leaders reminded us that God is ‘able to do more than all we can ask or imagine’ (Eph 3:20) and that “the real miracle comes as we allow God to work in us to transform us, but not only us. He wants to transform and do more than we can imagine in our families, churches, and communities. He wants us to be the yielded lives through which He brings about those miracles.”
The delegates returned home, ready to be the hands and feet of God in their communities to do more than we can ask or imagine.
In the New Jersey Division, the Aug. 25-26 family camp at Camp Tecumseh had more than 675 registrants. The theme was the “Faithfulness of God” (Lamentations 3:22-23) and included Majors Phil and Susan Wittenberg from Territorial Headquarters as special guests.
A huge highlight of the family camp was an international food festival, which has been ongoing for the past 17 years. This year, nine corps served amazing and authentic foods from around the world, including Colombia, Argentina, Korea, Japan, Nigeria, Peru, Jamaica, Spain, Puerto Rico, as well as Latin Caribbean dishes.
The program for the weekend included a welcome from Majors Jongwoo and Misook Kim, New Jersey’s divisional leaders, who wrote that they hoped the camp would be a time of “spiritual nourishment, relaxation, fun, and fellowship.”