Tertia and I had a wonderful opportunity last week. We flew out to Virginia to join big brother Daniel and go to Capernaum Camp with the Young Life Fairfax group. Capernaum is the branch of Young Life that reaches out to young people with special needs. Tertia has been attending a Capernaum Club here in Clark County since last December, but Daniel arranged for it to happen where he knows some of the leaders and had volunteered in the past.
The campground is Rockbridge Alum Springs, in rural Virginia. Young Life camps are designed to make you overwhelmed with the awesomeness of it all from the moment you arrive. Kids are told this is going to be the best week of their lives... and special needs kids are no exception. They each have a one-on-one "buddy" and are called Friends, not "kids with disabilities." They can do everything the typical kids can do... horseback riding, the zip line, the rope course, the "screamer" swing. All with the assistance that friends and family provide to people who need barriers to be removed so they can encounter Jesus... like the paralyzed man in Capernaum.
There is a pretty high energy level all week long. It reminds me of a perpetual Field Day, but cooler. Fairfax Capernaum dressed as the Toy Story Aliens for the Disney challenge.
Club meetings are very loud, but noise-canceling headphones are available. Tertia is going to get a pair of these, I think!
She loved most of the thrill rides, except the ropes course. But the giant swing was her favorite.
In the meeting time they break down the message of Jesus so beautifully and simply.
1. We can trust God because He made us "very good." I was in tears when I realized there were kids there who have never heard that, or maybe assumed that because of their disabilities, they weren't included in that. But here, they were the majority.
2. We can trust God/Jesus because He is always with us, like He was with the disciples in the storm at Galilee, and like He promised before the Ascension. We can trust God just like we can trust our harness to keep us safe on those thrill rides that are so fun and scary at camp.
3. When we turn away from God, it's like being cut off from our family. We feel scared and alone. The Narnia story illustrates this, and so does the great parable of the prodigal son. Scared and alone... how I'm sure many kids living with disabilities do feel.
4. But Jesus gave his life for us. So he can bring us into his family and we don't need to feel scared and alone ever again.
With big bro in the dining hall. Did I mention, the food is fantastic... served family style with a comedy-variety show after every meal.
Tertia loved Stormin' Norman and his little sister Gigi, and fiercely booed the villain who was trying to steal camp from them.
With her wonderful Buddy.
It was an amazing week. I'm so glad she had the experience, and I hope we can participate again.