2018 ILA camp is over! But is it really? With all of the relationships developed over the last five days, and after intense teaching, mentoring, worship, prayer, team-building, and of course fun, this camp experience will live on in all of our hearts. We can already see the impact it is having in the excitement of the learners’ eyes as they talk about completing their community projects so they can come back to camp next year.
Day 5 of camp ended today with a closing ceremony. First-year learners planted a tree. Underneath that new sapling, each learner threw in a piece of paper on which they had written an obstacle they saw preventing them from growing as leaders. Those obstacles will dissolve as fertilizer to help their team tree grow.
Second-year learners returned to their growing tree, which they planted last year. They each placed a rock around the base of the tree. That rock represented a burden they carry for others to grow in Christ.
Third-year learners also returned to the tree they planted two years ago as first-year learners. The sun faded the names they had written on their rocks last year but the tree was growing stronger. This year they hung tokens on the tree’s branches. The tokens represented the fruit they are going to produce in their community projects and their futures.
After the closing ceremony, we prayed and danced, and said our goodbyes. Some of us joined the kids on the bus taking them back to the mall. There were lots of hugs and tears. We even got to meet some of the learners’ parents. I was on the ILA team last year and learned then how quick an easy it is to love these kids. It certainly isn’t easy to say goodbye to them for another year! The team is tired, but we are energized by the multiple blessings we have been a part of this week.