A lasting impact on young people’s lives
Christian summer camps are a real blessing to young people facing challenges and difficulties we can scarcely imagine. They take place year after year thanks to the support of people like you.
Good food, fresh air and exercise, motivation to study, improved social skills – these are all great outcomes. But the most significant outcome of all is when a young person comes to know and trust the Lord Jesus Christ.
Opportunities to be children
The complexity of Covid-19 restrictions did not discourage Talita Kum, Blythswood’s after-school programme from arranging a summer camp for children from low-income homes.
For children like Maria the chance to go away from home for a few days is a unique opportunity to grow as a person. The 11-year-old had only ever had one day-trip away from the home town where she stays with her aunt and uncle. So a week at a tourist resort high in the Retezat mountains of western Romania was a lifechanging experience, helping Maria to develop friendships with the other children and to grow confident and cheerful.
“The inn we stayed at has wonderful staff,” says Carmen Popa, a teacher at Talita Kum. “They followed Covid-19 guidelines to the letter, always wearing masks and gloves and regularly disinfecting surfaces. “No outsiders were allowed in during our stay and we had the whole place to ourselves for games and crafts. “We had four long hikes in the mountains, each one about three hours. We played games on the sports field, had a treasure hunt and every night we read a story to the children before bed.
“Maria enjoyed it very much. Many of the children were her classmates and so she felt at ease. She became very responsible with hygiene, tidiness and time-keeping. Her aunt could see the difference when Maria returned home. She was more willing to help around the house than before. “I have no doubt that the development of a good attitude will help Maria at school, too.”
Darius’ mum was getting worried about him. He used to sing in the village church choir but now the 12-year-old was getting into the wrong company and had started smoking. When she heard about the summer camps for young people in Romania, run by Children for Christ and supported by Blythswood Care, she was determined to send her boy.
“She warned us he might want to go home and would cry often and for the first two days that was what happened,” says Vio Jorza, who has decades of experience of running children’s camps. “Darius complained he didn’t know the songs, so different from what he knew. It was really difficult to comfort him.
“Our leaders kept praying for him, that the Lord would speak to his heart. God answered our prayers. The third night during the memory verse time something wonderful happened. He was touched by God’s word and the change was plain for everyone to see. A great joy came into his life and his face was shining.
“He said, ‘I don’t want to go home anymore, I will stay to the end of camp.’ After the Bible lesson he stayed behind for counselling and he trusted the Lord. He knew God’s call in his life and had a new desire for change and renewal. It was wonderful to see a new Darius. From that time he enjoyed every song and game and Bible lesson. We were all encouraged to see how God can work in a child’s life. It was a long summer with nine weeks of camps and almost 500 children. We needed this encouragement.”
A week at camp, paid for by your gifts to Blythswood’s gift catalogue, has motivated a 12-year-old girl in Romania to learn to read.
To describe Elena’s life as disadvantaged would be an understatement.
When the family of 12 children first came to the attention of the Department of Child Protection a few years ago, she had never been to school. She could neither read nor write nor count. She could not name the colours nor say in which country she lived.
Now in the care of a state-run children’s home in Arad, Elena was given the opportunity last summer to attend a children’s camp run by Children for Christ, one of Blythswood’s partner organisations in Romania.
There she enjoyed the games and activities, and especially the Bible stories and group discussions and singing. She enjoyed the regular meals and having the attention of the camp leaders.
“One day Elena stayed behind to talk to us about God,” says camp leader Vio Jorza. “She trusted the Lord as her Saviour and when we gave her a Bible she was so happy. She said that she wants to learn to read as quickly as possible because she wants to be able to read the Bible for herself.”
Summer camp for Ana is a week full of fun, friends and feeling secure.
Your gifts for children’s camps meant that the 10-year-old was able to return for the second time last summer.
Ana lives with her grandmother in Marghita, northwest Romania – an arrangement made to ensure that she actually attends school.
It’s in Ana’s best interests as her parents seem unaware of the importance of education. But it means that during the school term she is separated from her younger sisters.
“Ana said her sisters would love to be at camp too, but they are too small,” says Lidia Micula, a teacher with Blythswood’s partner organisation Fundatia Crestina Elim.
“She had a great time playing and enjoying herself with no worries or anxieties.”
Activities at Ana’s camp included swimming, team games, arts and crafts, and Bible stories.
In 2019, nearly 4,000 young people attended Christian summer camps in Eastern Europe, supported by Blythswood Care. Blythswood’s partner organisations in Pakistan provided activities and special events for thousands more. Thank you for your support for these young people.
Showcasing some of the work we do
Shoe Box Appeal
Receiving the gift of a small box packed with presents brings such joy; we thank you for the 110,926 shoeboxes you so generously donated in 2019.
With many of the recipients living in dire poverty, this gift, not only brings a smile, but hugely impacts on their lives.
When schools close at midday, many young children have to fend for themselves. We provide a six-hour programme for children from some of the poorest households in Romania.
The children receive clothing and a weekly shower as well as nourishing meals.
Over 70,000 people in Highland have been fed through our foodbanks. Everyday people are struggling to put food on the table.
Blythswood Care provides food, care and support to people in crisis.
Young people leaving state care in Romania often end up living on the streets. Growing up, they receive little education or training and struggle to find work or even a home.
The Daniel Centre provides skills and support to offer them hope and future.