Camp Living Water
See how the Boy Scouts brought camp to children in South Africa!
All kids love camp. That’s what the Scouts of Troop 880 in North Carolina believed, when they brought camp to the children of Mukhanyo Christian Academy in the spring of 2013. The Scouts delighted Mukhanyo students with a range of activities — games, worship, cabin time, and even swimming (a first for many Mukhanyo students).
Troop 80 consistently participates in Camp Living Water, a non-denominational Christian organization offering camps and conferences to kids ages 7 to 17. The camp is in Bryson City, North Carolina, at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains, and is a year round conference ministry for believers regardless of every denomination. In all of its programs, Camp Living Water seeks to point children, young people, single adults and families to the LORD, the fountain of living waters.
Camp Out, Christ In
By: Keith Brown, Friends of Mukhanyo Chairman
April 2013: I have just had the wonderful privilege of taking a group of Boy Scouts from Durham, North Carolina, to Mukhanyo Christian Academy (MCA) in rural South Africa to run a camp for our students there. The boys stayed for a week, leading the 40 pupils in play and worship, organizing activities, solo time, cabin time, and bed time routines for the children. We also took them swimming, which the students had never done before.
My son Seth, who was part of the troop, became very emotional upon his return. “We didn’t have enough time with them. We didn’t get to explain the gospel well enough for them to really understand,” he said, almost crying. That next week, he reflected often on the students there and his hopes that he and the other Scouts had made a lasting impression on them.
I experience this feeling, too, and am always amazed at how much the students do retain from our visits there. I stayed an extra week for meetings. And the next Friday when I returned to MCA, the kids were busy learning math with the new books and abacus wooden counting systems the Scouts had brought. In another classroom, the students were reading Little House in the Big Woods, each with a new book on his or her desk. Our group – 13 Scouts and leaders – had each brought a 50-pound box of items, toting some 650 pounds of books and educational supplies across the world for the school.
The students liked their new books and abaci but what they mostly talked about was camp. “When can we go back to camp, Mr. Brown? When can we see the scouts again, Mr. Brown? Where is Sean? Where is Sam? David?” The children kept listing off the names of the Scouts. I told them that the boys were all back home now. “But you will see them again,” I said. “When?” they asked again.
Merriam, our headmistress, said, “Keith, the kids that came were examples of true leadership. The MCA kids looked up to each of your Scouts and started realizing that they, too, could become leaders. They also realized that the American kids were not much older than them.” The children called Seth who is 1 and the other Scouts, who were older, “teacher,” honoring them for their role in opening their eyes to new experiences. Merriam added that if we can continue this program, bringing children as Christian mentors to South Africa regularly, we could help change the course of the country.
We traveled to South Africa to be with the students, to show them we cared for them, and to share the word of God. Yet we brought so much more. The Scouts showed the students love and kindness, serving the MCA kids in a Christ-like way. How could you be a better witness for Christ? Perhaps it’s not that surprising that the students were always asking, “When is chapel?” They loved singing and praising God as a group twice a day.
The Scouts put on a wonderful camp, drawing on their past experiences running Camp Living Water in North Carolina. The camp had action, worship, excitement, fun activities, and togetherness, all jam-packed in one week, with an amazing team working together seamlessly. I loved seeing my Scouts at their best, serving others. I am so proud of each and every one of them.
So when are we coming back? We need to answer that question because we can make a difference in these children’s lives. Each young student who learns about Christ at MCA and camp can become a strong advocate for the gospel with their family, friends, and larger community. And when they grow up, they can carry the gospel throughout the nation, sharing the message that Christ saves, gives hope, and restores futures.
This week was a beacon of hope for our students at MCA. It was an expression of love and service they will always treasure. And hopefully, it is just the first of many such experiences where children from two continents come together to share and experience the love of Christ. We camped out with MCA students – so that we could bring Christ in.