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Advocacy Camp

From Jennifer Davis, Minister to Children and their Families, Broadway Baptist Church, Fort Worth, TX

Advocacy Camp

Can children be advocates? We have discovered through our Advocacy Camp at Broadway Baptist Church that not only can they be advocates, they find a lot of joy and meaning when given the opportunity to make a difference in their community.

The idea to have this camp came from a group of churches in Waco who were doing something similar with their children’s groups. Our day camp this past summer lasted 4 full weekdays, and children in grades 3-6 were invited to come. We focused on hunger and the needs of those near and far who are struggling to have enough to eat. Included in the plans for the week were education and discussion about the issue; projects in which the children were working in the community and hearing from guest speakers; and time spent in Bible study where the children were reminded of the ways in which Jesus was an advocate.

Our camp this summer was one of our best experiences! Westarted off the week discussing what advocacy means and wondering together if kids could be advocates. We taught about hunger using curriculum from Bread for the World, played games with a message, watched videos, and had insightful discussions. We talked about issues such as reasons why people don’t have enough food, what are the facts, and what are some ways we can help. At the end of each day the children spent some time journaling and praying for those we learned about and served.

The projects from the week were the children’s favorite part. They like to work! They are active, helpful, and energized when given an important task. The children worked in the Community Center at our church. They learned about our church’s sack lunch ministry. We had the children think about what it costs to make sack lunches by making a grocery list, going grocery shopping for the supplies, and then making the sack lunches. The following morning they passed those out to our homeless neighbors. The children also stood in line for sack lunches one morning, as our homeless neighbors do, and that was their lunch for the day. This provided interesting conversation as they imagined what if might be like if that was all they had to eat for lunch each day. We also conducted a simulation experience in our church’s May Street Market, which is our church’s food pantry. The children were grouped in pretend families and had to plan out what groceries they would select if those groceries needed to last them for a month. They also stocked food in the market and helped hand out food to our guests.

Some other projects from the week included sorting and stocking food at the Tarrant Area Food Bank. We worked with Westside Presbyterian Church which is a local church that has a community garden and provides lunch to school children in the summer.

Our kids got to pull weeds to help clear the garden. We also had lunch with the children in the lunch program. We played games with them and did an art project together. These provided wonderful opportunities for our kids to see that children who might not have enough food are regular kids who like to play and are not all that different from them. One last activity our children did was to write to one of our state senators asking him to take this problem of hunger seriously. He even wrote them back several weeks later.

What amazes me during this camp is how seriously the children approach their jobs as advocates. They treated the people they met with such respect and care. They truly thought about what it might be like to be in someone else’s shoes whose life might be very different than their own. They talked about reasons why Jesus wants us to serve others who are in need and listed out examples of how Jesus did that very same thing. We had fun working together at our projects and laughed a lot together. The children were excited to come back each day and to imagine how they might continue to be advocates after the week was over. They memorized and lived out our theme verse for the week where Jesus said, ‘whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did for me.’ These children served Jesus during Advocacy Camp and hopefully it helped instill in them a lifetime of serving others in Jesus’ name.

For more information contact:
Jennifer Davis
Minister to Children and their Families
Broadway Baptist Church
[email protected]
817-336-5761  ex. 8224

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