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Big Sandy camp for kids explores God's universe
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Big Sandy camp for kids explores God's universe
By John Warren

BIG SANDY, Texas--Organizers of Youth Camp 2006 at the Church of God Big Sandy broadened their horizons to include all of creation in this year's focus for the four-day event.

The theme, "Exploring God's Universe," was evident throughout the church building, with elaborate decorations including colorful depictions of planets suspended from the ceiling.

The camp ran June 19-22 from 5:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. each day and was coordinated by Sharon Wilson of Tyler, Carol Bald of Gladewater, Reesa Bearse of Hawkins and Angela Dunnam of Pritchett. All four ladies had children in the camp.

When asked who came up with the theme, Mrs. Wilson explained: "It was a joint effort with the four coordinators, and we usually brainstorm and also get ideas from the Internet or local Christian stores and, of course, our own children."

A world of help

The campers ranged in age from 4 to 12 and were divided into three age-groups, with each having counselors and at least one assistant.

Because of the number of campers in level one, the counselors divided that level into two groups.

One counselor for level one was Bonnie Reed of Big Sandy, assisted by her daughter Savannah.

Jeanie Roden of Hawkins was the other counselor, assisted by Della Worden of Big Sandy.

Karen Weese of Big Sandy was the counselor for level two, assisted by Christine Wilson of Big Sandy. The level-three counselor was Sharon Burgin, assisted by her daughter Candice Self, both of Big Sandy.

The classes taught this year included team-building, archery, music, crafts, astronomy, orienteering and other astronomy-related classes.

The instructors were John and Reesa Bearse, Karl Wilson of Tyler, Jim Bald of Gladewater, Laura Moody of Hawkins, Doyle Welborn of Big Sandy, Ron and Linda Avey of Big Sandy, and Mike and Karin Danapas of Tyler.

Snacks and refreshments were served each evening to the campers by kitchen volunteers coordinated by Jean Shipman of Pritchett.

Mrs. Wilson noted: "It was wonderful to see the turnout of campers this year, and we appreciate all of the volunteers we had, as without them we would not be able to handle such large groups. The fact that so many of the children keep coming back each year and bring new friends and family along speaks volumes."

Attendance skyrockets

Sixty youngsters were enrolled in the youth camp, but one evening the attendance was 67.

"I thought it was our best camp so far," Mrs. Bearse said. "It was certainly our largest enrollment in the past five years. We had plenty of volunteers this year, which helped everything run smoothly. The campers seemed to really be enjoying themselves, learning new things and having a great time together. Of the 60 campers enrolled, only 12 attend our congregation regularly. The rest of the campers were from other local COGs as well as the local community."

Marcus Allen, an 8-year-old from Tyler, was impressed with Mrs. Avey's presentation of God's creation.

"Mrs. Avey taught us about constellations," Marcus said. "We saw all kinds of stars. They had glow-in-the dark charts on the wall. That was cool."

Going out with a splash

Traditionally, the final evening of camp is a little different from the previous three. Last year the campers were treated to a (tethered) hot-air-balloon ride. This year the highlight of the camp was wall-climbing and a "water slip slide."

All the campers who could summon the courage to take the challenge had an opportunity to scale the wall.

The last day included a puppet program.

Mrs. Bald said the show highlighted "how a universe as complex as ours must have a Creator. Kids were still reciting 'You can't have a creation without a Creator' and 'You can't have laws without a Law Giver' at church the next week."

Mrs. Dunnam summed camp up: "This was the best camp ever for me. Everything ran so smoothly. I think the reason is because we had so much help this year. People came forward and volunteered their time for a good cause, our kids. It is so much fun to see our dads be able to be a part of it as well."

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