The following is from guest writers Jenny Terrell and Ben Koehler. They write about how ELCA World Hunger grant money is being used to involve kids at Pine Lake Camp (WI) in issues of world hunger.

Crossways Camping Ministries, located at three sites in  northeastern Wisconsin, is dedicated to helping campers between third grade and high-school grow in their relationship with God and to incorporate Christian principles into their daily lives.  This summer our theme is “Called to Serve,” within which we are specifically focusing on educating campers about hunger issues around the world and God’s call to us as Christians to serve those in need.  We are incorporating hunger education into multiple parts of our summer program, hoping to increase camper awareness of hunger issues and then give them concrete methods to fight hunger in their neighborhoods and around the world.

Pine Lake Camp, near Waupaca, WI, uses meal time to educate campers about food waste and conservation.  At the end of each meal, one camper from each table must divide their cabins’ leftover food into “Food Waste” and “Compost”.  We explain to campers the importance and advantages of composting and describe the compost process.  Campers are encouraged to go with their cabins to look at the compost pile to better understand how long it takes food to decompose.  The food waste from each meal is weighed and the total amount of waste is reported at the next meal.  After the food waste is reported, counselors facilitate camper discussion of how our food waste affects hunger issues around the world, and brainstorm with campers positive ways to be less wasteful. 

Campers are encouraged to help out in the Pine Lake vegetable garden at some point during the week.  By watering, weeding, planting, or picking vegetables, campers gain more insight into the labor intensive processes which bring food to their tables, and learn about the positive aspects of eating locally.  We plan on using our vegetables to make homemade salsa for Taco Tuesdays and to add to our salad bar throughout the week.

Cabins of middle school and high-school campers spend one night camping outside in the Pine Lake Camp Woods, cooking their own tinfoil dinners over a fire.  The cookout experience is an opportunity to educate campers about the scarcity of food in other parts of the world.  Counselors first cook a pot of rice and then measure out one cup to show campers how little food some children have to eat during an entire day.  Counselors promote deeper understanding of food scarcity by asking campers questions such as “If you only ate one meal a day, what time of day would you eat it?” or “What types of activities would be difficult to do if you only had this much rice for the entire day?”

After campout, cabins sign up for a one-hour “Mission Project” session.  During Mission Project we expose campers to the realities of hunger by learning hunger related facts through playing Hunger Jeopardy and watching a video clip of ELCA Disaster Response bringing food to people in Zimbabwe.  We then break campers into small groups to discuss with counselors what they have learned and then to brainstorm ways they can fight hunger at home and abroad.  Campers have come up with amazing ideas including hunger benefit dinners, having a hunger education session in their youth group, and promoting fair trade products and micro-credit!  We write down all of the campers ideas and at the end of the week provide them with a sheet of their planned “actions,” encouraging them to follow through on their ideas once they return home.

On the last night of camp, as we sum up the Called to Serve theme, we encourage campers to donate some of their remaining camp store money to ELCA World Hunger Program and Disaster Response.  We explain to campers the power that their one or two dollars has in feeding hungry people around the world.  We end by sharing hopeful facts with campers, letting them know that alleviating hunger is possible, sharing hopeful hunger statistics, and once again sharing ideas of how they can continue to fight hunger when they leave camp.  We pray together for strength and courage to respond to God’s call of fighting hunger.

Here at Crossways we are hopeful that campers will leave with a deeper understanding of hunger issues, and even more importantly, a better idea of what they can do to help!

Jenny Terrell and Ben Koehler