Greetings from Bethel Alaska
Our first year of Camp was a great success thanks to the help of all who contributed. We had 39 youth start the week and 34 finish the week. These youth came from 4 different villages.
Activities included net fishing, fish cutting, drying fish, collecting drift wood, building a fish rack, spear throwing, Native youth Olympic events, berry picking, making Akutaq and fish head soup, beading bracelets and necklaces, fur sewing to make Eskimo Yo Yo’s, learning how lanterns work, tossing footballs, making new friends, snack shack time for their afternoon candy and soda cravings, singing, trying new foods, campfire complete with marshmallows, inter tubing and canoeing.
We started the mornings after breakfast with small group time where staff and youth read scripture and discussed how it applied to their everyday life. Evenings at camp included a chapel time with singing songs and one of the staff sharing from their hearts, and encouragement to apply it to everyday life. The sharing consisted mainly of personal stories, Biblical stories and how God has changed their lives with hope for the future.
We had 4 army surplus tents one for a girl’s dorm and one for a guy’s dorm plus a chapel and a kitchen/mess hall. The floors were plywood laid on the tundra which provided a semi smooth but not level sleeping area. Although it was cold and sometimes Wet We made the Best of it. We were able to get camp up and running this year on a very tight budget we only had a cost of $250 per student in direct week of camp cost and our total year cost including capital improvements was $350 a student. Actual cost to students was $40.00.
We look forward to this next year and expanding to a second week of camp. There were many students who requested splitting Jr. and Sr. high students to better address their individual needs. We believe this would be a beneficial addition and follows the long term plan for Camp HOPE. Other additions we would like to make include a 24 ft Yukon Raider boat to help safely transport youth to and from camp and other structures including building platforms to put the tents on and a platform for basketball and other activities.
Our kitchen and eating area was made possible by local church that donated the use of tables and chairs. This next year we would like to purchase tables and chairs for the camp. We would also like to extend the eating area. This past year we feed 48 (staff and youth) people with 5 tables and 33 chairs in a 12 x 20 area. Many times the staff would eat outside because there was no room in the tent, however the kitchen was the place to be if you were cold. Once all the students were in the tent and the stove was working it was very warm which helped keep spirits high on cold drizzly days we commonly have here on the delta. The kitchen also became the center of board games and visiting for the students and staff.
My favorite memories were seeing them come through the line and enjoying the food. Their favorite food was the moose stew. The other favorite memory was when we handed out the Tooth Brushes and toothpaste provided by YKHC. I have never seen boys so excited! It was about mid week and they instantly loaded up the toothpaste and went to work cleaning those teeth at the kitchen tables.
At the beginning of the week many students were heavy spirited but by the end of the week many were happy and had a changed lighter spirit about them. It was through the example set by the staff of a Godly life that opened many up to what was said during the chapel and devotion times. We were able to watch God peal back the pain and begin to heal the hurt in the youth as they encountered Christ in a safe place.
We want to thank you for helping to make Camp HOPE possible and would ask that you consider what you could do to help in the future.
Thank you for Partnering with us!
Bob & Rachelle White