Trại Hè Hòa Lan has come to an end and I am left with an aching body, a lost voice, but above all: a mind with priceless memories and a heart full of love. The theme of this year's camp was Coming Home and we have experienced the theme in several ways this week.
Trại Hè Hòa Lan is a catholic summer camp for children of Vietnamese heritage in the Netherlands. At camp, the children make (new) friends, learn more about God and the Vietnamese culture. We have a huge group of volunteers who come together to make this week happen.
Seeing the other camp leaders is a way of coming home for me personally. Throughout the years, I have gotten to know many fellow camp leaders well. I have known some for over two decades, ever since we went to camp as children ourselves. Others have become like brothers and sisters to me. Each year, new friendships among the camp leaders are being developed and this is something that I am grateful for.
|Old friends, new friends and my dearest ems|
This year I got to be the group leader of Toma. The nine children of my group were delightful. I could not have asked for a more lovely group. Teaching them to work together, be kind to one-another and to be thankful is very easy when they are willing to learn and do it in such a natural way.
|My cuties of the group Toma|
The teenagers had a different programme than the children. However, there was still plenty of time for me to spent with the teenagers. Being a camp leader at Trại Hè Hòa Lan is a gift in many ways. Seeing these young adults transforming into strong and kind individuals over the years is such a beautiful experience. All of us have been raised between two different cultures. Although there are many great things about this, sometimes it can be a struggle too. Us camp leaders have experienced this ourselves and we can relate to the teenagers their current situation and guide them, whenever they want and let us do so.
|A few of the fabulous teenagers|
|We have the best name in the world! ;-)|
A summer camp for children from 8 till 18 years seems like a far stretch, but Trại Hè Hòa Lan has proven that it can be done. Seeing the children and teenagers working together gives me so much hope for the future. Learning about God and showing your love in words and deed is so powerful.
The first moment when I literally got chills at camp was when the kids were worshiping God through this song...
Coming home has turned out to be a very suitable theme for this camp. We all came home to each other at camp, we came home to God and we came home in each other's hearts.