At home was not where 11-year-old Caleb wanted to spend his free time. His mom was always at work, struggling to support Caleb and his younger sister with her hourly wage job. His dad was in prison. Despite the circumstances, Caleb’s mom was adamant about one thing. She wanted her kids to attend Camp Good News, a program run by Child Evangelism Fellowship of Fargo-Moorhead. Through a scholarship provided by donors, Caleb was able to attend Camp Good News for the first time a few summers ago. At first, he was resistant. “He was the rowdy one at camp,” says Sean, a counselor-in-training who worked with Caleb. “He was a really good kid, but he would talk during chapel.”
For two weeks, Caleb made noise during quiet times, shrugged off the Bible memory challenges, and wouldn’t listen while the leaders shared messages of the gospel. Then, something changed. “He started comprehending what we were teaching him,”Sean said. “He started getting involved with Bible memory verses and really thinking about what they meant. He was silent during chapel, and he even encouraged other kids to listen in like he was.” A few days later, when the leaders asked if anyone wanted to accept Christ as their Savior, Caleb raised his hand. That moment is worth all the ups and downs of being a counselor for Sean, who was once a camper like Caleb. “I get this warm feeling every time I see a hand raised accepting Christ,”says Sean.
Today, Caleb continues to attend a youth group in our area. His sister has attended the camps too. The Camp serves as a light in a dark family situation that could have otherwise led the kids down a dangerous path. “With these kids, the odds are pretty stacked against them,” says CEF Fargo-Moorhead director Doug Sikkink. “Statistics show that kids with parents in prison have a higher likelihood of ending up in prison themselves. With Caleb, we’ve seen him the past two years at camp, and have seen him change and move and grow.”
Caleb’s story is just one example of how an experience at camp can be life-changing. It is a place of refuge and of friendship, where you know you are safe and you are loved. More so, you are learning about the unconditional love of God –a love that remains in the hearts of the campers long after the camp ends. Children and teenagers are at the most impressionable stages of their lives. Camp Good News provides a safe community where kids and teens can form friendships with their peers and their mentors, while hearing the good news of the gospel. The impact of these experiences creates a strong foundation of love as kids grow into adulthood “Less and less people are going to church,” says Pastor Dave Motta of Calvary United Methodist Church in Fargo. “There is a huge population of unchurched people. Jesus told us to go forth and spread the gospel. And at CEF, they’ve got it. They understood the call to go.”
You can help us reach the kids in our community by giving to Children Evangelism Fellowship of Fargo-Moorhead on February 9, Giving Hearts Day. Your donation of $25 provides for one day of camp, and allows us to give scholarships to more children like Caleb and his sister. On February 9 only, your gift is multiplied by generous donors to make the biggest impact. Give at givingheartsday.org and make a lifelong difference in a child’s life. Thank you!