“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” (1 Cor. 13:11-12)
Long hikes, Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, solitude, teachings on purity – these and more came together for two groups of New Hope sons and daughters as they attended Rites Of Passage ExperienceS (ROPES) camps at Musana this month.
The 24 members of the Primary 7 (6th grade) class participated in the camp from Nov. 7-12, and the 28 sons and daughters in Investment Year attended the following week from Nov. 14-18.
Throughout the week, leaders and counselors presented three decision points to the campers:
- Choosing to follow God instead of the world
- Choosing to commit to purity (especially sexually)
- Choosing to leave childish ways behind
The campers and counselors passed through various experiences to challenge and teach them. Participants were expected to practice responsibility and accountability by following instructions. Failure to do so resulted in consequences (such as some pushups) for either campers or leaders.
Each group went on an all-day hike. The campers weren’t told ahead of time what was on the agenda—they just had to follow the leaders! The P7 group hiked 28 kilometers (17.4 miles), while the IYs hiked about 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) and also rappelled down a cliff.
At the end of the day, P7 sons and daughters shared about how the day taught them the importance of having a goal in life and persevering. An IY son said the hike forced the group to work together as a team in order to complete it!
Campers listened to teachings about the four pillars of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, then took part in low ropes challenge stations to provide practical examples. The leaders also spoke to the young ladies and young men separately about the importance of sexual purity and encouraged them to ask any questions they had. It was a time of good conversation and dialogue, hopefully planting seeds which will continue to grow in their hearts and minds!
One day was set aside for the campers to read Scripture, pray, meditate, and relate to God. After eating breakfast, they were instructed to fast and spend the day in solitude. Many found it challenging not to talk to others for that long—but many also appreciated the time to reflect. In the afternoon, apples were handed out as a temptation to break the fast – but all withstood the challenge and broke the fast together the following morning.
Campers took part in community outreach projects including picking up garbage in the neighboring fishing village and helping villagers work in their gardens. After returning to camp, the young men worked on slaughtering a goat for the evening’s celebratory meal, and the young ladies helped prepare the meal in the afternoon.
They also made symbolic objects to remind them of their ROPES camp. For P7, the guys made traditional shepherd/hiking sticks and the gals tie-dyed wraps. The IY young men forged knives and the ladies made pottery!
The last evening around campfires, the leaders talked to the campers again about the commitments they were encouraged to make, although campers were reminded that they would still need to make daily decisions in line with those choices. They also received a certificate pledging to follow God, live maturely, and practice purity that they were advised to discuss with a parent/mentor and sign.
Before concluding the week, the leaders and counselors held a commissioning ceremony with the campers. Each one was presented with the object he or she had made, and the counselors prayed for the group.
One of the IY sons shared a testimony about the ROPES camp the following day back at Kasana Community Church. He talked about how hard it was to fast for 24 hours, but said it gave him an opportunity to look into his heart and spend time in repentance. During the week, he learned more about how he can honor God as a man. He also appreciated the encouragement to treat his brothers and sisters in Christ well, working together with them to grow in God rather than leading them into bad relationships.
The Musana Camps staff have now held seven ROPES camps for three years of P7 and IY classes and for one group from outside of New Hope. They adapted the curriculum from a program developed by a Christian ministry in Kenya. The foundational purpose is to offer an intentional, Biblical experience for children in the transitional phase to adolescence and adulthood.
Praise God with us for the Musana staff who have dedicated time and efforts into these camps! Please also pray with us that God will continue speaking into the hearts of these sons and daughters, that they would keep on growing in Him.
To see more photos from the two camps, you can check out the album on our Facebook page!
Photos by Syd & Andrea Sparks, Geoff Britton, and Esther Carey