Camp GC Lifts Off
Happy smiling faces, cheering, clapping, excitement, fun and the Word of God are all part of the new General Council session for kids this year! Formerly known as Kids Council, the new Camp GC takes children to new heights on SOAR Airlines.
Far more than a game room or glorified babysitting, Camp GC has the spiritual sense and feel of church camp, where teams compete, values are shared, and the gospel message is emphasized.
"There has been an amazing presence of the Lord," says Camp GC Director Patti Chapman. "Last night we learned about the Lord's Prayer and prayed through it one step at a time - God was there!"
Leaders presenting in the services are skilled children's ministers, with a passion to build an understanding and love for Christ within the hearts and lives of children. "We have an amazing group of leaders and volunteers," Chapman says.
Chapman, who has served as Children's Ministries project strategist for the past 8 years at the AG national office in Springfield, Missouri, says she has overheard many children talking about what they have experienced as they leave the evening services, with one parent later sharing how her child couldn't stop talking about the services.
Camp GC offers several age-level flights, Flight 512 (for children ages 5-12), Flight 34 (for preschool children ages 3-4) and an Aviators Club (for children birth through four who did not register for Camp GC). Children enjoy morning, afternoon and evening SOAR Airlines flights along with two special "glow" parties for elementary kids during the week. A flight for kids (5-12) with special needs is also offered in the evenings.
Chapman says that for the elementary-age children, there are many different fun activities and games that they participate in. Yet there are also activities that develop their spiritual lives. "We have a table where kids write out their prayer requests, place them on the wall, and then take another child's prayer request down and pray over it, then return it."
Camp GC doesn't leave the Flight 34 campers grounded. The younger children enjoy bounce houses, a super-sized play area, and are also provided with themed devotional services that include music, games, lessons, crafts and other activities designed for their age level.
Robin Garvin, the director for Kids Ministries for the Southern California Network and is the featured speaker/ventriloquist for Camp GC Flight 512, uses her puppets, Georgie (monkey) and Scarlett (lamb), to communicate God's Word in a fun and impressionable manner.
"What is key," Garvin says, "is that the kids go from the service to a small group where leaders engage them with responsive questions about the service."
In addition, the Camp GC offers Flight 512 campers themed rooms from the different AG World Missions regions. "What's really cool about these rooms," Chapman says, "is that in addition to focusing on that region of the country, we have missionaries from that particular region come in and talk to the kids."
Sarah, 11, from Olney, Maryland, says she enjoys all the games and services. "I like how the leaders motivate us, and I really like the ventriloquist telling the Bible story . . . I think it's an awesome learning experience."
Xander, 9, from Hemstead, New York, agrees. "It's a lot of fun," he says. "The games we play are very cool and the lessons are cool with the puppets and stuff."
Camp GC is staffed by 75 workers who oversee the 480 pre-registered elementary "campers" and the 70-75 preschool campers.
"Parents are telling me how their kids are pulling them out of their hotel rooms, in a rush to get here," says Hannah Brooks, a Camp GC volunteer. "Seeing all the kids' smiles, you can just tell they're enjoying it."