Camp Beaver Creek (2012)
Last summer I had the pleasure of meeting Pastor Bruce Plummer and his wife, Sande while serving at the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation in Wisconsin. Bruce is a Native American pastor to the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine tribes of Ft. Belknap in Northern Montana. He was born on this reservation and, after many years of alcoholism, drug abuse and a deeply rooted hatred of the anglo community, he had an encounter with Jesus Christ…an encounter than continues to this day. After meeting Bruce I found myself depending upon his wisdom and knowledge of Native Americans to assist me in my work with these wonderful people. I am always appreciative of other’s opinions and experiences but I know I’m heading in the right direction if I have Bruce’s approval! This meeting in Wisconsin eventually led to my most recent chance to minister amongst Native Americans. I had a small group from Twin Bridges Baptist Church in Alexandria, LA who wanted to participate in a mission with me. After praying about it, God opened the door for us to work with Bruce at a week long camp for the children of his reservation. So, after finishing up with the children’s camp on the Pine Ridge reservation, I packed my bags and headed to Montana.
The camp was made up of several groups. The Met Baptist Church from Houston have been serving as the sponsors since Camp Beaver Creek began four years ago. They provide everything from the food to all the supplies as well as the VBS leadership. They also prepare the camp for everyone who is coming in. They are a dedicated group with a love for this ministry. Churches from South Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Michigan and, of course, Louisiana joined The Met in serving the children of Ft. Belknap this year.
This camp provided over 100 children a place to encounter Jesus Christ. We had VBS in the morning where we divided the kids into groups according to age. The VBS consisted of six rotations – Missions, Music, Bible Study, Snack, Crafts and Recreation. Several adults were given a team of kids. I had the 8 year old’s.. Kim and Curt each had a team and Zeb helped with Kim’s team. Mark helped each day in recreation.
After VBS the children returned to their counselors. The counselors were the teenagers from each of the churches and they were responsible for mentoring anywhere from 1 to 4 children. They slept with them, ate with them, prayed with them and spent all of their free time with them. Kristy, John and Kennis were the counselors from our group and I believe they came away as blessed as their kids did.
This camp was more than just a VBS. It was also a cultural camp for these children. It is important that these children realize that they do not have to be “white” to be Christians. We want them to know that they don’t have to sacrifice their identity for someone else’s identity because God created them to be who they are. Therefore, the afternoons were spent in archery, hatchet throwing, swimming, horseback riding and leatherworking.
Children’s camps are tough on adults…especially overnight camps. First there are the sleeping arrangements. Some of us were in tents while others were in cabins. Then there are the bathrooms – approximately 75 women sharing two showers and two bathrooms…do the math!
You face strong winds that tear all the tents and tipis down in the middle of the night. You find yourself winded more easily because you are used to being below sea level (if you are from Louisiana and Texas). You spend long hours doing things you never dreamed of doing. You have dishwashing duties using an outdoor sink for hours that go long into the night. You have to adjust to sunset holding off until about 10:00 p.m. and the sun rising at about 4:30 a.m.
You wake up each morning with a sunburn, a windburn, a fresh bug bite and bloodshot eyes from lack of sleep but when it’s all said and done, you wouldn’t have it any other way! Why? Because God has called you to this. Because you fall in love with the children. Because, out of the blue, God provides an unusual opportunity for you to minister when you least expect it. Because there’s nothing better than a night sky full of stars. Because, when you leave, you find that your life is changed. But most importantly, because…Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. ~John 15:13