August 13th 2015
Every Sunday night during the summer, our summer college interns/missionaries gather on Sunday night for worship and sharing. They share stories from the week, some of them pretty funny. Most of them are about how they see God working in Camden, in the kids, and in themselves.
I dread the last weekend of our summer program: interns are crying, kids are crying, StreetLeaders are crying. This past Sunday night was our last time to gather for worship. After 7 weeks of pouring every bit of themselves into the program, it was time for our 35 interns to say good-bye to Camden and the children they had come to love, and it was heart wrenching.
The sharing time started slowly. No one wanted to get in front of the group and break down. But little by little they did. One by one, they shared about the kids who changed them. They recalled wanting to come to Camden to change the city, and instead found themselves changed by the love the children gave to them.
Then Sam stood up and shared about Juju, a 9-year-old boy at Camp Saved. Juju had won the Most Improved Camper award. I was struck by the realization that every summer for the past 5 years, I’ve heard intern stories about Juju. In 2010, I heard about Juju as a 4-year old, playing in the streets and riding his bike through downtown. The interns during the summer of 2010 were shocked that this little boy could be seen anywhere from the waterfront to south Camden on his bike, by himself. They made an exception and let him into Camp 2 years before our starting age.
The summer staff of 2011 fell in love with Juju, and his antics at camp kept them laughing. They would compose lesson plans with him in mind, inspired by the challenge of creating Bible and art lessons that would get him to listen. They began having him over for dinner; they went to his house to meet his mother. The summer interns of 2012, 2013, and 2014 shared regularly about the challenges, growth, and progress they saw in Juju.
As our interns depart this week, we are grateful despite our tears. Because of your support and the willingness of young people to give a summer or school year of their lives, children like Juju continue to be loved and nurtured. They too will become Most Improved Campers, and they will have cherished memories of young college students who loved them and gave them everything they had to give.
Thank you for making this possible.