Connections at Camp: Elementary Weekend 2018


During the weekend of March 16-18, Emerald Youth Foundation took 135 elementary school children and 55 adult volunteers and staff to Camp Ta-Pa-Win-Go in Watauga, Tennessee. This was the largest group Emerald Youth had ever taken on a camp retreat. Overall, 10 different JustLead partner churches and organizations were represented.

Our main purpose for taking children to camp is to provide an atmosphere free from the distractions of daily life and allow them to focus on what God might be saying to them.

Another goal of camp is to provide a fun and unforgettable experience that some of our kids may not be able to have otherwise. In between worship sessions, the students had time to enjoy the gymnasium and a variety of outdoor games, including some of their favorites like Octo-ball and Nine Square in the Air. In addition, every student had the opportunity to zipline!

The theme for the weekend was “At the Movies,” in which we used clips from popular children’s movies to communicate the Gospel in a four-part message series we called “Undefeated.”

For each session, local worship leader John Jackson led the students through song, and a member of Emerald Youth’s staff would present a short message. Over the four worship sessions, we painted the picture for our students that we are all in need of a Savior, and that Christ, who didn’t seem like a hero, sacrificed His life for us. The weekend also included two interactive small group sessions where the students had a chance to really dig deeper into Scripture and the messages.

The retreat impacted each child differently.

One group leader shared the highlight of the trip for him was hearing a secondgrade student singing worship songs that tell of God’s deep love for all people under his breath in the cabin at night, after that same student had complained of not even wanting to go to the worship sessions earlier that day.

Another leader mentioned that one of her fifth grade students had been largely disconnected from their afterschool program this semester, but being at camp reenergized the child and he desired to start attending regularly. Camp also helped restore his connections to the other children.

Altogether, the young people were exposed to Christian community, worship, and the Word of God. We know that the Lord worked in each heart as He intended, and for that, we are grateful.

Erin Wright