2016 降臨堂 ‘奔向節制’ 兒童喜樂營 Advent Church Children’s Summer Camp!

You’d never believe that anyone could have so much fun and laughter on a summer camp, and see so many smiling faces on all the children, when the theme of the summer camp is – guess what?  Potentially the world’s totally least attractive and least interesting theme for a summer camp ever!  Particularly when the key elements of a summer camp are always fun, fun and more fun!

Every year Advent Church holds a 2-day non-residential summer camp (like a holiday club) for children aged 5-12 ~ those in the local community plus children of staff and faculty at St. John’s University.  We also invite the children of Lao-Mei Village further up the coast.  And every year, we’ve taken the theme of one of the fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23: ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.’

Last year’s theme was gentleness, which was hard enough, and this year, yes you’ve guessed it ~ SELF CONTROL!  Actually the full title of this year’s summer camp was

‘Run Toward Self-Control!’ ‘奔向節制’

You’d be forgiven for thinking that never in a million years would children normally want to sign up for a summer camp on the theme of Self-Control.  Well, I certainly wouldn’t have ever signed up, ha ha!

But the children did, and their parents loved the idea!  Hey, as long as there’s a water fight at the end, the kids’ll come!

But we did have less children this year – though not because of that theme!  Rather because July 1 and 2 were a Friday and Saturday which are days off for SJU staff and faculty during the summer.  And weekends are not convenient for many parents.  But still, we had over 40 children, and over 30 student leaders, so, well, it’s quite a number, and mean’t that our students could give extra attention to the children.  YES!

12 of those children were from Lao-Mei Village, brought along by their after-school classes teacher, Ms. Cheng, who we’ve had a good relationship with for many years.  Many of those children are in the classes I’ve been teaching in Lao-Mei Elementary School this last term, so it was fun to see them again.

Here we all are!

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Our students in the SJU chaplaincy, led by our staff member, Yu-Lin, have been hard at work for weeks and weeks preparing for this great event.  Anyone with free time has been drafted in to help!  We also had some former students who came back to help, plus some teenagers from the church and local children who’ve always come every year, and are now old enough to help rather than participate.  It was a great mixture!

Tzu-Yang (Mark) was keen to be the main student leader as he has such warm memories of attending a summer camp as a child, run by a church near his home; and as he loves languages, he decided to include some English drama.  A good idea.  Which is how I came to be involved!

The 30+ student leaders had to come for 2 days training on Wednesday and Thursday last week, June 29 and 30, and most of them stayed over in the church center.  Church members came along to cook and help out too.  We started with a commissioning service in Advent Church on Wednesday morning.

Everyone worked really well as a team, and each group was responsible for different things, games and activities, equipment, praise and worship, small groups and of course the drama.  They seemed to be very good at seeking to sort out any problems within the team, which were many, partly because this was the first time that we’ve used our newly-opened Advent Church Center for a big activity ~ so there were lots of new things to learn and much flexibility was needed.

This was the 2-day training session:

We had 4 dramas, 2 in English and 2 Bible Stories in Chinese.  A lot of hard work, but such fun, and very funny.  Who would ever thought that the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13) could produce so much laughter?!  And as for Samson and Delilah, wow, that drama was incredible, and a great example of self-control.  Or not – as the case may be!

Our English dramas centered round an English Class, with me as the English teacher and Tzu-Kuan as assistant teacher – but it was filled with rowdy students whose problems of being late for class, not doing homework, fighting and falling asleep were all down to lack of self-control.  So when the school principal (Tzu-Yang) appeared and wanted to award the best behaved person with a free trip to the new Shanghai Disneyland, I was the one chosen to go.

The second day, there I was in sunglasses and hat and with my suitcase on my way to Disneyland when I got a phone call to say that there was no teacher, so could I come on my way to the airport?  This time, the English Class was completely different as each of the students had found a solution to their problems ~ the one who was late the first day now arrived just in time, having set 10 alarm clocks before going to bed, and the one who fell asleep in class because she’d been staying up to midnight playing computer games, now only played until 9:00 pm!  Such a vast improvement, and so the students were rewarded with a water fight while I rushed off to catch my flight to Shanghai.

Ha ha, and one of the kids even asked me if it was for real!

And so to the first day, Friday July 1:

And so to the second day ~ which started with the most amazing 5-star breakfast for our students, kindly provided by our church members, Meng-Zhen and her husband Ming-Chuan ~ we’ll be dreaming about that breakfast for years to come!

Rather amazingly, after a very hot afternoon in the sun for the water fight, just as we finished at 3:00 pm, suddenly the heavens opened and we had a massive thunderstorm, which went on and on.  During that time, we were totally absorbed in watching the drama of Samson and Delilah, and listening to Rev. Wu sharing about the difference that Jesus can make in our lives, and how we can pray to Almighty God to help us improve our self-control….

Then at 4:00 pm, just as we finished and said goodbye to the children, the rains stopped and the sun came out!  Ah yes, thanks be to God!

And finally, Yu-lin gathered all the student leaders together for a round of applause, and vote of thanks…..

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And a short video with our singing in the background made by our stduents…..

And after clearing up and sharing time, off we went to a local restaurant for dinner, kindly hosted by Rev. Lennon Chang. The restaurant is just up the coast, and the sun was setting as we arrived ~ ah yes, what a great way to end the summer camp!

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Thanks be to God!  And to Yu-Lin, Tzu-Yang and all our students, all the church members, parents and children, a big thank you too. It was fun, happy, wonderful, and everyone learned a lot ~ and we’re now all running hard ‘towards self-control’….!

YES YES YES!

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