Do you remember a season, activity or event that you anxiously wait for, that you even count down the days to in your diary?
I do. I remember when I used to count down for the next school year to start, although with such an excitement that probably disappeared a couple of months after school started. Maybe for others that time was Christmas, summer or another season. However, not everyone has opportunities to find places for recreation, or time to go out on a trip, or simply to hang out with friends. In Guatemala there are just a few public areas for recreation and in many communities where these public areas are, they are not safe for people to go walking or to play. Furthermore, depending on your circumstances, for many their priority will simply be to survive day to day, so there is no time for relaxing and no place to do it safely.
It is here that Nicodemus provides an opportunity; our annual camp where young people have the chance to laugh, play, sing, talk, learn and build relationships for life. For many of our young people this is “the event” of the year, where they can go to a safe place, enjoy healthy laughter, where there will be food on their plate and because of that, they will rest and be distracted to focus on something else.
“The Nicodemus camp is a special time because, as a mentor, you get to relate with your mentee from a different perspective. You can see your mentee relating with others and it is a great opportunity to share with him or her in a different way. The camp helped me to not only develop the mentor – mentee relationship with my young person, but also a true solid friendship” – Andrea, mentor.
Some participants have saved the date in their diaries since the first time they heard about the camp, and others count down the days to the weekend. Others reorganized work and school schedules to be able to go to camp. Why? Because for two days they can see and spend time with friends, mentors, and other young people from different places and contexts. For many of the young people these relationships go back to 5 or 10 years. In 2020, our camp hosted 130 young people from 12 different partners including the oldest partners - Tiempo de Rescate (Time of rescue crisis support ), Casa Hogar ‘Mi Especial Tesoro’ (‘My Special Treasure’ Girls’ Protection Home) and Centro Educativo ‘Mi Especial Tesoro’ (‘My Special Treasure’ Education Centre). Also, young people from Guatemala City, Chimaltenango, San Miguel Petapa, Villa Nueva, Escuintla and other surrounding areas could gather together with the same purpose.
Over this short weekend we organised indoor group games, challenges, teamwork activities and opportunities to develop leadership roles. We shared meals together and enjoyed an interesting mix of short sections of movies and other reflections. At the end of the day we sat around a campfire to worship and listen to testimonies of how God has transformed the lives of young people from projects and partnerships supported by Nicodemus. The next day included a group devotional, and more outdoor games and fun activities.
“The camp was a wonderful time. I will always remember the time when as a group we were all sharing together about how God has made big changes in our lives. The camp was an important time for us to get away from our routines and relax a little” – Nataly, mentee.
The objective is clear. We wanted to create a space for young people to have fun without depending on substances, bad influences, and for others, to give them a break from their daily routine so they can focus on seeking God and pay attention to what he always gives. A space to worship God, to come back to Him, to remember He keeps loving despite wherever we are. Relationships matter and for Nicodemus that means to be able to Rescue, Restore and Rebuild those broken bonds; knowing we all serve the one who has the power to transform lives. We only provide the space, platform and hands. He does the work.
So next time you find yourself waiting agonisingly for an event, remember we do too. We wait every year for our camp to meet and hug friends, because we care for them no matter where they come from and because we know that together we can make a transformation in our communities.