Two weeks ago, a friend from our church, Greentree Christian Church, called to ask if I would be available to help Camp David of the Ozarks transport some children back to the Jefferson City area. These children were finishing up their week at Camp David, and the camp provides a service of picking up the campers and driving them back to their hometown areas. I looked at my calendar, and saw that I could help drive and I did, this past Friday. When we moved to Rolla in June of 2011, I heard a few people mention that they were helping at Camp David for a week in the summer or even that their entire families were volunteering for a week at a time. I was a bit curious as I didn’t know what Camp David was or where it was even located. So, I did a bit of research.
Camp David of the Ozarks began in 2003 and by the summer of 2004 the camp was ready with two weeks of camp being offered and 18 campers attending. By the summer of 2012, the camp had grown and hosted 202 campers over an 8 week period. What makes Camp David of the Ozarks so special is that it is specifically set up for only children of prisoners; the campers have one or both parents in a state of Missouri prison. Sadly, there are a lot of statistics indicating that children who grow up in a home with a parent serving time in prison, those children have a greater rate of also turning to a life of crime and ending up incarcerated themselves. The founders of Camp David wanted a camp for those children, to present them with a week of love, laughter, nature, and a chance to introduce them to Jesus. Another statistic is that children who grow up in an inner-city environment usually never venture more than a 10 mile radius from where they live, so many never get to experience life in the country, life at a camp environment, and Camp David helps to open the kids eyes to life outside of an urban setting.
As I was driving our van to Jefferson City last Friday, with girl campers in tow and a counselor in the “shotgun” seat, I decided to just sit and listen to the conversations between the girls and their counselor. I heard many times how much the girls loved Camp David. I heard how they were going to miss the camp an awful lot. For these specific girls, this was a second time to visit or a third time. The girls loved the horses and discussed their favorites in the stable. They loved the songs and decided to sing some as we traveled north on Highway 61. The first song I was not familiar with, something about a Moose drinking juice, a typical camp song, one with many stanzas that tell a silly story. I was very glad that they didn’t sing “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”! The rest of the songs the girls and their counselor sang were worship songs, many that I have sung at church. Instead of joining in with the singing, I decided to take that time to pray for the girls. I praised God that they had such a wonderful time at Camp David that week, I asked God to bless the workers at the camp for giving their time to reach out to children growing up in less than desirable environments. I prayed that the lyrics of the songs would embed themselves in these girls’ minds and hearts and that they would all come to know Jesus as their Saviour, that the bible lessons the girls learned about would be seeds planted that would in turn grow into a strong faith.
When we reached our destination near Jefferson City, the girls’ families were there to greet us. Over and over the girls’ relatives thanked us so much for driving the girls back to them, thanked us for the work done at Camp David for their girls, telling us over and over “God Bless You!” That humbled me a lot because I was simply a van driver for that day, I hadn’t done a lot of real work with the campers like the counselor who rode along with me did. If you want to learn all there is to learn about Camp David of the Ozarks, click on the link and read about it. It is a wonderful facility sharing the Good News of Jesus with children that in America’s society are often overlooked or not even thought about.