Energy, Music, Movement, High Fives from young adult staffers – that was our greeting to morning worship at PASSPORT Youth Mission Camp in Danville, Virginia for five mornings in June. I was honored to be a chaperone for our River Road youth. It was exhilarating for them – and for me! It was evident that the PASSPORT Camp program designers understand youth in middle and high school.

After much singing, we heard a short devotional and then the young people were off to Bible study groups which also made up their afternoon community mission work groups. Good friendship and working relationships took place. I accompanied one mission initiative which included about thirty youth and six or eight adults working on readying an older house which had been donated to a Danville ministry of counseling and transitional housing for women in crisis. My group did many tasks, from weeding and mowing, to inside work of washing down walls in readiness for painting, actual painting of ceilings, and knocking out walls that needed replacing. I saw staffers teaching and seeing that young people were not in any danger – be it from wasps outside or dust and fumes inside. On our last day we heard the director of the ministry tell us of the work they do and express her appreciation to the of young people. Three of RRCB’s youth were on this work site. Others worked in a community garden which is tended to provide food for the homeless, a ministry of our CBF missionary at Grace and Main in Danville. Some worked at a community playground near a neighborhood of poorer families. Others of our youth helped work on clearing a riverwalk trail or at a food pantry. What wonderful opportunities to allow our youth to grow in experiencing what it means to reach out to help others in need.

As if all of this physical work was not enough, the 350+ youth went back to the Averett University campus ready for fun and games, be it a pick-up-on-the-spot soccer game, basketball in the gym, or planned church group competitions in volleyball. Then there were big all-camp fun times – a whole athletic field of competitive water (and Mud and Washable Paint!) games. Another highlight was the Christmas Dance party in the gym with all the church groups competing for the best costumes!

Riding in the bus with eleven of our River Road youth, hearing their fun and games together and their bonding taking place was special. Their devotional circles and fun circles in the dorm, led by Marnie, the ever insightful and fearless RRCB Minister to Youth and their Families, was special too. I was amazed to realize, sitting in the back of the bus coming home, how wide the friendships developed in a week by our youth were. Within thirty minutes several had created chat-groups with at least forty youth whom they had met from the greater Richmond area, Virginia, North Carolina, and North Alabama

I thank RRCB and the families of our youth for making PASSPORT Youth Mission Camps possible for our youth this year and the many years before. In addition to the fun and games they afford, they truly give great opportunities for growth in friendship and in present and next-generation mission-mindedness.

Written by Judy Morris