For the third year, the 2017 Colombian United Youth Summer Camp was held at the Hotel San Gil del Campo just outside of the city of San Gil, Santander, Colombia from June 22-27, 2017. This was our fifth consecutive year for camp in Colombia, with a total of 16 campers, 6 staff from Colombia, and 4 staff from the United States--two of which were the Colombian pastor and his wife. We experienced delightful cooperation, comradery, and unity among the campers and staff.
This centrally located city makes travel to camp easier and less expensive for all who attended. Hotel San Gil del Campo is a former monastery and affords an absolutely peaceful and tranquil location with vistas of mountains and valleys covered with a variety of green vegetation. The temperature was also very comfortable day and night…no air conditioning was needed or available.
Campers and staff stayed in hotel rooms that housed three to four people comfortably and we all ate together in the dining hall that provided three freshly prepared meals (from onsite grown vegetables and meat) cooked each day. We started each day with a Spiritual Compass Check and ended each day with a Christian Living class or other Bible activity using the 2017 United Youth Camps theme of Building Your Relationship with God to keep us focused on what we all desired to learn while at camp. Building bonds of friendship with our spiritual family was also a huge part of camp. Plenty of time for fellowship and relaxing is an integral part of this camp, allowing time for bonding and renewing friendships between campers, and staff with campers as well. It is truly an uplifting experience, and the setting of tranquility added to such.
Click or tap on photo below to see slide show!
Returning again this year was the Bible Skit activity. Dividing the campers into three groups assisted by one or more staff, each group selected a Bible story and wrote a skit based on the camp theme. Participants practiced during free time and performed later on in camp. Covering the stories of Abraham, Jonah, and Joseph, the very entertaining skits were enjoyed by participants, viewers and the invited hotel staff.
Courtney Horvath organized the most requested activity, Amazing Race, which had everyone running from one part of camp to another to complete various exercises—both physical and mental. She added in extra challenges this year to allow opportunities to improve their time.
Capture the Flag and Frisbee Football were two new field activities introduced and enjoyed enthusiastically by the campers. Montana Hermann also provided water balloons to enjoy in the pool and for a water balloon toss. For the first time, we had a dance class. Janet Salek taught the line dance Cotton Eyed Joe, and David Sierra taught basic steps for Merengue, Salsa, and Vallenato.
During Sabbath services, camper Ronaldo Medina did an excellent job of leading songs and giving the announcements. Using and focusing on the theme of Building with Faith, Staff member David Sierra gave a sermonette and Colombian assistant pastor Jaime Salek gave a split sermon.
After the Sabbath, everyone was able to practice his or her new dance steps at the dance. A collection of songs from Colombia and United States kept everyone enthusiastically dancing from 7:30 PM to 11 PM.
A bus trip to Cascadas de Juan Curí occurred on Monday afternoon. The ecological park is about 12 miles away with gorgeous views of the 650-foot waterfall. Even though it was raining steadily during the 20-minute walk to the waterfall, enthusiasm to enjoy the trip did not diminish. Most all of the campers and staff made the strenuous climb to the upper falls to enjoy time swimming in the frigid pool at the base of the falls.
Hotel San Gil del Campo afforded the campers the opportunity to spend quality time together in peace and safety. The hotel staff went out of their way to accommodate any needs that we had to help build a spirit of unity and comradery that pervaded the camp. Strong bonds of friendship and spiritual growth were developed. On the last day, all campers shared how they were going to put the camp theme into practice in short two to three minute speeches, and Camp Director, Scott Hoefker, encouraged everyone to “remember the themes that were taught and discussed during camp and to Respond to God in their daily lives between now and next year’s camp.”
Blessed with peace, cooperation and a spirit of camaraderie, deeper bonds of friendship were built among the campers and the staff. We look forward to returning to this tranquil gem of a location next year. A hearty thank you to brethren who gave generous donations to allow youth to attend and experience an uplifting atmosphere and growth opportunity with others that would be difficult without such help. We are very grateful also to Good Works for providing the funds to fly our two Bi Lingual-Spanish speaking staff from the United States to help us this year!
-Gayle and Scott Hoefker