Everything will change. A Ministry of WorldVenture.
Last week was a marathon of a week. As I had mentioned before it was the National J-AEBECI Camp. In other words, summer camp for all the youth of our church association. There were so many times during the week when I had flashbacks of summer camp at Hume Lake, but also many things that were totally opposite.
First off, youth camp here doesn't mean 11- 18 year olds like it would it the States. There were campers from around 19 to their late twenties. So transitioning from being a counselor the last two years at Hume Lake to being a camper again was interesting.
One thing that was for sure different was bedtime. Instead of being given a 10:00 lights out time, we had to stay in chapel until 11:30. I never once thought at summer camp "Man, I wish they'd let me go to sleep!" like I did at the one here. The last night, we had a partial veilée until 3:00 a.m. It wasn't obligatory, but since it was the last night with everyone and I was having so much fun dancing with friends, I somehow managed to stay the whole time.
There's another difference: dancing. That's just not something we incorporate into worship in the States. But here, it's inseparable. For every song (both French and Senoufo) you've got a group of people in the middle, walking/dancing in a circle, singing their hearts out with huge smiles on their faces. I can't judge whether the others are smiling because they're worshipping or because they're just having fun dancing, but whichever the reason, their absolute joy is so contagious.
I am no singer, and I am no actress, and yet I got roped into both the skit and song competition. I hope my team had no idea just how much I dislike those things. I'm so not a performer, it's a good thing I love those guys otherwise I wouldn't have done it! Each team had to come up with a skit and write a song based on 1 & 2 Timothy and I participated in both. It was also something I never expected myself to do, but I had to surrender it, not care about what I looked like, and just do it.
My favorite part of camp was playing sports in the evenings. There was volleyball, soccer, and relay races. It was the closest I got to playing real volleyball in the longest time and it felt great! Plus it was so fun having all 160 campers gathered around, cheering, and having a great time. I was also in the relay race around the track, I'm not especially fast but it still shocked people. Apparently a common misconception is that white girls can't run. And throughout the week tons of people told me that they were surprised that I know how to play volleyball well.
The camp was a great opportunity to meet youth from different areas in Cote d'Ivoire, even though that was somewhat of a struggle too. At my own church, the youth are so used to me, they hardly notice I'm different and don't treat me like I am. I got too used to them being used to me. So when I met youths who had never met a white person, I got sick real fast of being treated differently. But it's not their fault, they don't realize that we don't want any kind of special treatment. I just got spoiled by a lack of special treatment from my own youth group.
Despite how exhausting the week was, it was worth it. As everyone was saying their goodbyes on the last day, I had a lot of people saying thank you just for participating. The appreciation of course helped, but what really made it worth it was a friend who knows all the Journeyers well tell us that he didn't see any difference between us and the other youth and how happy he was to see us right in the middle of it all.