Post by Ryan House
The last week of July, we took two of our elementary school boys to Hat Creek Camp in Brookneal, VA. We had already taken most of the kids to Pine Valley Camp in Pennsylvania in June, but for our younger boys who were new to UMA (and had never been away from home before), we wanted to find something closer.
As we drove Jay and Ben, both nine-year olds, to Hat Creek Camp, I could see in their faces both excitement and a little bit of nervousness. The hour-long drive through the country felt like quite the journey for two boys who’d never been away from home before. After we got them checked in and settled in their cabins, I asked them “do you feel okay if we go back to Lynchburg” and they cautiously agreed. As previously planned, I returned the following evening to spend the night and hang out with the kids the following day. When I got there, I was wondering how the first night had gone and if they’d want me to take them home, but quickly saw that they were having a blast! They preceded to tell me how much fun they’d had and asked me if I’d swim with them during their free time.
I quickly learned that swimming in the lake was the pinnacle of fun for the boys. Though neither one had a lot of experience in the water, they were eager to suit up in life jackets and swim in the “deep part”. While both enjoyed the swimming part, the water toys were a little more intimidating. Jay quickly embraced jumping off the tower, playing on the water trampoline and balancing on “the rocket” which was basically an inflatable merry-go-round elevated about 5 feet out of the water. Ben was a little more cautious. I asked him if he planned to go on “the rocket” and he said, “probably sometime”. I asked him, “some time when I’m here, or after I leave”? His response was, “probably after you leave.”
A few minutes later he asked me, “Do you want to watch me go on the rocket?”
“Only if you want to. It looks like fun, but if you don’t want to try it this time, it’s okay. If you decide to, I’d love to watch you!”.
A few minutes later, Ben was up on the rocket and before long I’d somehow been convinced to make the climb up and spin around as well. It was so neat to see him step out of his comfort zone and be willing to try new things!
Both boys had a lot of fun, learned new things about God and when it was time to go home, they both asked if they could come back next year.
When we arrived back in the neighborhood Friday evening, the boys both had a host of friends and younger siblings ready to welcome them and pumping them with questions about their time there. It was so cool seeing how excited they were to share all the things they’d done at camp with their families.
*the boys names have been changed to protect their anonymity.