By Stan Friedman
BLUE JAY, CA (June 21, 2011) – For 19 years, students attending each of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) camps during the summer have donated funds to an international camping project, but this year will be extra special.
The total amount donated since the projects first began is expected to top $1 million. Dave Cairns, Pilgrim Pines Camp director, says the goal for students this summer is $53,000.
This year’s recipient project is a fledgling sports camp in Asbest, Russia. Contributions will fund scholarships for campers, equipment purchases, and training for Russian staff.
The Department of World Mission and Covenant camps partner in the offering. Alpine Camp & Conference Center in Blue Jay has taken its participation in summer offerings to new levels in Colombia and Thailand.
Money donated during the 2009 offering funded scholarships and physical improvements at “La Rocka,” a camp run by the Covenant Church of Colombia outside of Bogotá. Alpine’s executive director John Gehring, subsequently consulted with the Colombia camp’s director Mauricio Bunch and other Colombian camp staff during a visit last August.
That led to José Gonzalez, a part-time Alpine staffer, traveling to Colombia as a consultant in developing extreme sports at La Rocka. Gehring and Gonzalez also were the main speakers during the camp’s latest summer program. (The summer season in Colombia occurs at the same time as the winter season in North America.)
“I have this dream that the young adults who participate in our Camp Mosaic will someday become involved with mission in and around Bogotá,” Gehring says. “The church there is doing a great job of sharing the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ with people in desperate need of hope.”
Staff from Alpine also continues to develop relationships with camps in Chiang Mai and Roi Et, Thailand, where new camps are being started. The new ministries were the recipients of the 2010 camp offerings. Those funds aided with building a road, cabins, and a drainage system for the athletic fields.
Although construction continues, the Thai churches are using what facilities are in place to operate soccer camps, says Karen Hallberg, ECC director of mission mobilization and connection.
Two staff members from Alpine traveled to Roi Et in April to help pour concrete foundation footings for the camp meeting hall. Fifty Thai men and women helped with the project during the weeklong project.
The trip came one year after a three-member team of camp directors from the United States traveled to the Southeast Asia nation to consult with the newly formed Camp Board of the Covenant Church of Thailand. The team went to learn about the board’s vision, to share ideas, and to participate in a work camp.
More than 60 Thai men and women joined the team and Covenant missionary Randy Bevis for a week of developing the property.
“What Alpine is doing serves as a great model for any organization that wants to engage in global ministries,” says Hallberg. “Be aware that God is at work in the world. Develop relationships, be creative and generous, step out in faith, and give God the glory.”