Saturday, July 12, 2008

Baby Eagle Camp, Ukraine

I’m back from Ukraine. As most of you know, I spent 2 weeks in June near Donetsk, Ukraine. I was teaching Bible and Christian character in the Baby Eagle Youth Camp, 3 hours north of Donetsk by bus.

The lessons went pretty well, despite the language barrier and constantly changing times and availability of campers. We had translators, who did a great job. So well, in fact, that I sometimes wondered if I was needed at all.

But, of course, the lessons were just the beginning. We also had "hang out" time with the kids, and sports, chess, field trips and other activities. Then, each night after dinner, they would have programs that included skits, singing, etc and then later, disco.

The kids were great. They included us in everything they could, and seemed to really enjoy the chance to meet and learn about us, “The Americans.” Even though most spoke only a few words of English and I spoke even less Russian, it was amazing how the friendship and respect came through in sign language. And the kids were eager to help each other out. Any time we came to an impass where we could not understand each other, they would dash off and get someone who spoke more English to help.

Here we (my sister Dee and I) are with some of the kids in our class, before leaving for a walk to the Monastery nearby. We taught the oldest group, about 12-15 years old. The building in the background is their dormitory. I believe the word says “Turtle”, the name of their group.

And, here they are, hiking to the Monastery on one of our field trips. Talk about well organized and disciplined. I kept causing trouble because I didn't fit easily into the strict two column rules.
Here is a picture of the area where we had our big group meetings, programs and disco. It is a round concrete pad surrounded by bleacher seats, known as “The Valley of the Sun”.

Here is our team, at the main gate to the camp. Both the camp and the surrounding area was beautiful.

Probably the highlight of the trip was giving Bibles to the campers. Everyone was very excited, including campers, counselors, housekeepers, etc. Others wanted an extra, for their little brother or sister, which we accommodated as best we could. One lad made our trip, when he said “This is a dream come true, to have my very own bible.”

These camps are former Communist Indoctrination camps, so being able to visit and teach from the bible seems almost a dream come true to me. Of course, we probably will never know if we had a long term impact, but the interaction, the friendship we found is real and valuable.

1 comment:

nemattox said...

I'm glad to see you finally posted something. I was blessed enough to see you and enjoy your pictures, but it would be a shame if the other readers of your blog didn't get to enjoy at least some knowledge of your trip!

Love you and miss you already,