The following is from guest writers Anna Rohde and Bethany Atkins. They write about how ELCA World Hunger grant money is being used to involve kids at the Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp in issues of world hunger.
In a letter urging her Senator to advocate for hungry children, one camper writes, “Please don’t take this as just a letter from a kid. I am very concerned about child hunger in this nation.” One addition to the programming this summer at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp is an offering of letters by 8th and 9th grade campers to their senators and representatives. These letters are written following the weekly Hunger Drama, which combines a dramatic portrayal of hunger and homelessness with local and international statistics on these issues. In an effort to move from reactions of guilt to reaction of empowerment, we seek to give campers the tools to act through advocacy and volunteerism. The letters address issues of hunger involved in the Child Nutrition Act, and provide an immediate outlet for action. At the end of the week, campers receive handouts with volunteer opportunities in their towns. Both of these aim to use experiences at camp to fuel energy for service in their communities.
We’ve focused our garden programming on the 6th and 7th-graders that come to camp. We call it the Great Pathfinder Garden Quest and the kids follow clues from station to station, where they participate in activities that explore the environmental, social, & spiritual impacts of food production. For those who do not garden at home, the activity is exposure to tangible action & creativity. For those who do, it seeks to connect global agricultural issues with local actions. We hope this encourages thoughtful eating, living, & serving.
The garden itself is nearly 2500 square feet, comprised of about 14 raised beds of radishes, carrots, corn, tomatoes, onions, strawberries, rhubarb, lettuce, beans, and an assortment of herbs and other experimental crops. We’re learning a lot about what crops can escape the local critters! We have also started two small-scale composting systems as examples of constructive food waste disposal. One is a vermicompost with red wiggler worms in a five-tray compost bin, and the other is a homemade compost barrel that campers can participate in rotating to speed decomposition.
We have also made an effort to integrate hunger, poverty, and social justice issues throughout the camp day. During their free time, campers have the opportunity to donate some of their spending money to ELCA World Hunger. During Bible Study, campers may visit the Art Barn. Here, we seek to create sustainable projects that reuse materials from around camp and that function while at camp or have use upon returning home. For example, campers plant bean seeds in decorated cups on Mondays, which they may bring home and transplant or give away. Tuesdays, campers create paper bag luminaries reused from their pack-out lunches, to be used in prayer services later in the week. Campers paint reusable canvas tote bags on Wednesdays to reduce the waste of grocery bags at home. Finally, campers decorate quilt squares on Thursdays to be assembled into quilts by volunteers at a local church and donated through the ELCA to those in need.
We’re finding this work to be valuable and rewarding, and are thrilled to belong to a church which provides for these opportunities. Campers and staff alike are enriched by fresh perspectives and relevance to the important food issues in our world.
–Anna Rohde and Bethany Atkins, Hunger Grant Coordinators
Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp