Well, friends, Covid-19 has been rough. As people who are created to be in relationship, social-distancing has taken its toll on us all. As the shutdown happened, we were all thrown into figuring out a new way of doing church. When we realized that this would mean we could not move forward with our neighborhood camp, Camp Surrey, we were devasted. Then we realized that just like we figured out different ways of “doing church” through Facebook or Zoom, we needed to figure out different ways of “being the church” to our neighborhood as well. We saw the challenges in front of us, but we could not stand the thought of leaving all those neighborhood kiddos hanging. We had an incredible response from our neighborhood with our digital egg hunt, and we wanted to do the same thing for Camp Surrey. We knew the Holy Spirit was in control, but what we experienced this summer was far beyond our wildest expectations.
Our leadership team came together (we all live in the same neighborhood) and decided we would provide a new camp experience for our neighbors. We put our heads and hearts together and after lots of prayers, we came up with a “digital camp” that would allow us to serve all kinds of families in our neighborhood. We stuck with the theme we already had planned “Mission I’mpossible” and we got creative!
Each day, we had videos from different leaders from our church as well as “missions” (challenges) for our neighborhood to participate in. All five families from our leadership team set up “rendezvous points” in their front yards throughout our neighborhood loaded with bags with all the supplies campers would need for that day’s challenge. We continued to set up each day of the week with new supplies. We were able to see lots of familiar faces and meet many new neighbors who were eager to join in on the fun!
Camp Surrey currently caps our camp at 50 campers. This year, because of the digital layout, we were able to serve over 200 families in our neighborhood. My friends, this is the BEAUTY of neighborhood churches and camps! There is nothing more rewarding than serving kiddos and neighbors that you will continue to see and have relationships with throughout the year! We were able to sit in our front yards and see many of the campers from previous years, as well as connect with many new families that we didn’t know before!
We also decided that this year, this was something we wanted to do free of charge for our neighbors and community. People are tired, stressed, and lonely, and we wanted to do something to serve them with no strings attached. We started off the week with a “Random acts of kindness scavenger hunt” followed by “kite making,” “origami,” “making family flags,” and ended the week with a neighborhood Camp Surrey parade! The joy we saw on the faces of our friends and neighbors was incredible. The Holy Spirit moved in a powerful way.
Each evening throughout “camp,” our leadership team was able to come together in my backyard to debrief each day’s events. We shared meals, we shared our hearts, and it became an intimate gathering where we were able to go so much deeper in relationship with one another as a leadership team. It wasn’t the same as our traditional camp, but it was beautiful. We were still able to experience the late nights and early mornings that we all missed so much about camp!
The experience was a gift from God. It filled us with hope and was a wonderful reminder that he is sovereign. He can use all things for his good and we are blessed to be able to participate with him. We pray that God continues to open the eyes of our hearts to show us all the ways we can join him in ministry, even in the middle of a pandemic. He’s got this! Bring on the fun!
Love Venue Coordinator, GC Surrey Hills