Campers participate in a Mission Awareness activity at Pine Lake Camp
It is easy to identify with the ELCA Malaria Campaign when you encounter mosquitoes in the woods of Wisconsin. Crossways Camping Ministries found this to be true in the summer of 2012 when the ELCA Malaria Campaign was the focus of their “Mission Awareness” project.
Crossways is made up of three sites across the state of Wisconsin. Between all 3 sites they host about 1,800 youth campers each summer. They also host about 20 day camps and a handful of family camps. “With just the campers on site and day campers last summer I’d estimate over 2,300 campers were involved in the ELCA Malaria Campaign through Crossways Camps,”
said Kenzie Kauth, Registrar and Marketing Manager at Crossways. Each summer, Crossways selects a cause from ELCA Good Gifts to focus on in hopes of raising both awareness and funds. “Our synod (East Central Synod of Wisconsin) was a pilot synod for the Malaria Campaign, so it was an easy choice. There were many people fired-up about it in our synod already.”
Campers enjoying Mission Awareness time
Stacy Mallette, Summer Program Director at Pine Lake Camp, explains the many ways that campers were engaged with the mission awareness focus. “At some point throughout the week, each counselor leads the campers in ‘Mission Awareness’. This usually includes some educational and fun activities related to the year’s focus. For example, last summer we did some “Fact or Myth” trivia about malaria, we showed them a mosquito net, we had an activity where campers shook hands with each other, but one had glitter on their hand which spread to the others, and discussed how mosquitoes can spread malaria from person to person, and a couple of counselors shared their personal experience with malaria.” Each summer, Crossways hosts some international counselors from South Africa, several of whom have had malaria, and shared their stories with the campers.
At the end of the week, campers had the opportunity to donate some of their spending money from the camp canteen to the Malaria Campaign. “It’s really neat to see campers choose to be generous,” said Stacy. “I once had a camper who wanted to buy a t-shirt but told me that they would donate it instead because the price of the t-shirt could buy a mosquito net
Pine Lake campers discuss malaria
Over the course of the 2012 summer, Crossways Camping Ministry raised over $10,000
for the ELCA Malaria Campaign. What inspired such a huge response? Stacy elaborates, “I think there were a couple factors. First of all, we had an empathy factor because we have quite a few mosquitoes at camp
which made the campaign very real and tangible. Secondly, the campers who had a chance to hear from a counselor who had experienced malaria first-hand seemed to be extra generous, because they felt that they were helping someone they could relate to.”
Camps are often an important part of spiritual growth and church participation in youth. By focusing on a mission project, it gives campers an opportunity to engage in the work of their church even after they go home. “
Over the last 9 years the campers have raised over $110,000 – which is amazing! The time they spend on the mission project each week has a great impact on the campers and the impact is felt wider than just their financial contributions,” says Kenzie, “We’ve heard many stories of campers going home fired up to raise awareness and support in their churches and communities – which is even more amazing!”
Thanks Crossways Camping Ministries for all the ways you educate, engage and care for our youth! Our wider church is strengthened because of your good work. Thanks especially to Kenzie and Stacy, for providing the content and pictures for this post.