Slovakia Teens Virtual Camp!
July 28, 2020
2020 SON Slovakia Teen Camp – July 15-18, 2020
U.S. Team: Faith, Natasha, Pr. David, Angela, Heather, Augustine, Rachel and Brian
In this exceptional year for missions, the Lord provided an amazing opportunity to connect and serve with our Slovak ministry partners! For the first time in the history of this organization, we embarked on a completely “virtual” overseas camp experience.
Along with our Slovak partners in ministry, we decided on a 3 day virtual camp experience that would engage Slovak teens in a study about Hope, for three hours each evening, plus a Saturday morning wrap-up session. With the 8-hour time difference that meant our U.S. team joined at 11AM for the Slovak 7PM evening teen camp. On the last night, we took a short nap and joined at 1:00AM for the Slovak 9AM Saturday wrap up session. It was well worth losing a couple of hours sleep to really lock-in everything we encountered in Scripture during the three previous sessions! Another great blessing was the truly international scope of this camp. Teens and young adults from 5 different countries – U.S. – Slovakia – Germany – Latvia – and Belarus participated!
While travel to Europe was not possible in 2020, the U.S. team members were able to come together and serve from SON headquarters in Albuquerque, NM. This helped make it more of a “traditional” mission experience for our team, as we were able to live in community, serve, recreate, and grow together in Christ. Of course, the whole virtual aspect of the camp required new technology, embracing different ways of doing things, and rehearsing with our Slovak co-leaders how to make everything that is happening on a computer screen still engage and encourage our teenage audience, in the Gospel!
The biggest challenge was to still provide the same meaningful connections to the Word of God and build the lasting relationships that are the cornerstone of an in-person Teen Retreat. Live music from SON Full-time Missionary to Latvia – and still in Latvia, Pastor David Michael Carrillo, compelling videos, fun on-line challenges and games, and powerful testimonies shared by our U.S. Team and our Slovak Co-Leaders helped to make these all-important connections to the Gospel. However, the most fruitful time was spent talking in smaller, Zoom breakout groups. The small groups provide a safe place to ask and discuss difficult questions, while digging deeper into Scripture for the answers that the Word of God provides.
Fun and games are an important part of every retreat – virtual or in-person! A scavenger hunt, same-color clothing contest, and a super-hero costume contest were among the favorites! The U.S. team also spent a lot of time eating, praying, playing, and exploring the beautiful high-desert mountain landscape of New Mexico, together. It was not the same as being there, but we trust in the provision of God in Christ Jesus and in His good timing. We are also hopeful that 2021 may allow us to return to Slovakia and join our old and new-found friends in a live and in-person SON Life and Adventure Teen Camp! To God be the glory! Amen.