The SpringHill Connection
“Should we host SpringHill Day Camp this year?” That question was on the mind of our church leadership for months. We discussed it from a variety of angles, combed through SpringHill’s new safety policies, and talked with other camps who were meeting this summer. We decided to go for it. And I am so glad we did!
I felt it that first morning: the total joy and excitement radiating from the counselors and campers. There may have been masks covering every smile, but you could see it in their eyes and watch it in their movements. Everyone was so happy to be back. An amazing number of parents commented that emotionally and mentally their children needed this chance to get outside with other kids and try some new activities. Many counselors commented that the children were more enthusiastic than ever to talk during small group conversations and Bible study. We needed this connection!
Don’t get me wrong: there were still concerns. We prayed every day while temperatures were being taken that everyone was healthy. We kept our eyes open for campers who needed reminders to put their masks in place. Extra SpringHill staff was hired to disinfect the equipment after each group. There were a large number of extra safety measures in place. But I am so thankful we were able to still have camp! I am thankful we could reach out and connect with a number of children and parents from our community.
This camp truly is an outreach into our community. Fully 81% of the campers are not connected to Elmhurst Christian Reformed Church as their home church. As I was looking over the results of the campers surveys I was struck by the numbers: 79% of campers said they have a better understanding of what Jesus did for them after their week of camp and 18% of campers said they dedicated their lives to Jesus for the first time this week. Great things are happening! The love of Jesus and his story is connecting with these campers, and the message is going home. Every year we have had a number of children who start attending our Wednesday night ministries because they were connected to our church through SpringHill Day Camp.
One of the other blessings that came out of our SpringHill connection was our relationship with Dani Campfield, our SpringHill director for the past three years. Dani started with SpringHill seven years ago. Her first week of camp was here at ECRC leading a group of campers that are now high school sophomores. This past Thursday we celebrated Dani and her last week with SpringHill right here at the church where she started. It was a full-circle moment of tears and joy. Dani is moving on to teach and plan children’s programming for the Salvation Army in the South Side of Chicago. She will be greatly missed, but she will continue to do amazing work for the Lord.
These past two weeks of camp may have looked different and may not have been what we had planned. But the joy of Jesus was woven through. His work was still being done. Connections were still being made. I am so very thankful.
Thank you everyone for keeping camp and our campers in your prayers.
Kara Hackert, Director of Children’s and Family Ministries