Hopetown Highlight #6: 5th & 6th Grade

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. Psalm 3:3

The first night of 5th-6th grade camp Melissa talked about the week before. She told them how one night, at 2nd-4th grade camp, there was a little boy who stood up in front of the group. Our theme for the week had to do with animals, and all of the kids were introducing their stuffed animals to the group. This little boy, however, did so with his hat pulled…

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Hopetown Highlight #3: All Boys' Retreat

"You are a treasure."

This is a statement that boys and men of all ages often struggle to believe. It’s also the statement that set the stage for our All Boys Retreat this year. We started the week by watching "National Treasure", a movie about an American historian racing to find a treasure hidden by the founding fathers before a rival with less honorable motives finds it.  At first glance, the film was simply a fun…

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Hopetown Highlight #2: All Girls' Retreat

“Play with Joy…”

Our All Girls’ Retreat started, as do so many of our retreats, with a movie on the back of the barn. This week, we watched The Miracle Season, the true story about Caroline Found, who inspired her high school to win the state volleyball tournament after a tragic moped accident took her life her senior year. The story chronicles the grief and the courage her teammates find as they work through the loss of their captain and friend. It is a story of hope and strength on the part of these high school girls…and exactly what we thought our high school girls needed to begin the journey of our week together.

The movie talked a lot about playing with joy. Playing with joy, however, sounded like the opposite of what Caroline’s teammates wanted after her death. Instead, they wanted to…

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Hopetown Highlight #1: 11th & 12th Grade

“It’s not who we are, but can be a fruit of what we do.”

This week at camp was our 11th-12th grade camp. We talked about Mr. Rogers, Romans 12, and apples. We also played on the lake, rode 14 miles on bikes, had Thanksgiving and Christmas, played ultimate frisbee, bowled, and talked about what to expect in college. But it all came back to what it looks like to…

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Middle School Beatitudes versus Jesus' Beatitudes: Hopetown Highlights

Let me tell you why you are here.  You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. -Matthew 5:13, MSG

We skip over salt sometimes.  We read that verse and talk so much about light (You know…you are the light of the world kind of stuff).  But we miss the salt…and Jesus was saying something very important when he talked about salt.  Because, you see, salt itself was very important in Biblical times.  It was valuable.  People were even paid in salt, sometimes, instead of wages.  And we all know salt still has many important purposes.  It preserves.  It disinfects.  And it especially helps…

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Hopetown Highlights: 9th and 10th Grade - Being Un-Dragoned

We started out our 9th-10th grade camp with a boy named Eustace.  Eustace wasn’t actually at camp with us…except that he was. Eustace was a character in the movie, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, that we watched the first night of camp.  And Eustace, basically, is every one of us.

Eustace started out as quite a grumpy young fellow.  Nothing quite suited him…no situation, no environment, and certainly, no one.  He grumbled his way, much like a little monster, through the beginning of the movie until a certain scene when Eustace was transformed… 

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Hopetown Highlights:  All Girls’ Camp

Let’s have our eyes open to what God may want to show us…

 “The next day John SAW Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘LOOK, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.’ Then John gave this testimony: I SAW the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.  And I myself did not know…

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Hopetown Highlights: Boys' Camp

In Steven Spielberg’s beloved 1989 adventure classic Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade a character asks the hero, “Why do you seek the cup of Christ? Is it for his glory or for yours?” For the few days that encompassed all-boys camp a daring group of middle school boys sought to answer this question for themselves.

Treasure hunting became the theme of this all-boys camp, drawing initially from the boys viewing of Indiana Jones, Melissa introduced the concept not of tangible earthly wealth but of the treasures of heaven and the wealth that is placed by God within us… 

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Hopetown Highlights #6: Being a “Greater” 7th-8th Grader Part One

On the first night of 7-8 grade camp, we watched the movie, Greater, on the back of a barn.  It’s one we’d highly recommend watching with your 7-8 graders, or high school kids.  We wouldn’t just recommend it because it’s a movie based on a really amazing guy who happened to be a Razorback (cough, cough, Sissy’s favorite team).  We’d really recommend it because there’s so much to talk about…and so much to glean from this extraordinary man, Brandon Burlsworth, and the way he lived his life.

Brandon was a walk-on for the Razorbacks in the late 90’s.  He worked so hard to not just play, but to persevere, that he was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts.  Tragically, he lost his life...

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Hopetown Highlights #5: 5th-6th Graders - Superheroes, Super-Conquerors, and Armor-Bearers

What helps you believe you’re incredible?

“Someone listening to me.”

“Someone letting me know how I’m different and special.”

“That God made us just how he wants us.”

“Getting a hug.”

“Praying.”

“Someone smiling at me.”

“Forgiveness.”

“Being thankful.”

“When someone says, ‘I love what you’ve done so far.’”

“When someone knows I’m trying as hard as I can.”

These are the answers the 5-6 graders gave to this question last week at camp.  And, let us say at the outset…these were some pretty incredible kids...

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All Girls’ Camp:  NASA, Buckets, and New Mercies

Our all girls’ high school camp of the summer started with the movie Hidden Figures on the back of a barn.  If you haven’t seen it, we’d highly recommend it.  It’s a true story about the African American women who, against a great deal of opposition, changed the NASA program forever.  One specific statement, from the movie, set our week in motion:

“Karl Zielinski: Mary, a person with an engineer's mind should be an engineer. You can't be a computer the rest of your life...

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What do King David, the Preds, Giants, and the Enneagram have in common?

And how can you use it to share truth and inspire more resilience in your kids?  Read here to find out…

This week marks our first week of camp at Hopetown.  We’ve had high school kids at camp this week.  And our hope is that what we’ve been learning might be something you could share with the teenagers you love.  Read it together.  Talk about it.  Ask questions.  And even throw stones…we’re getting ahead of ourselves...

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Hopetown Highlights - Session 5 - 2nd-4th Grade Camp - Pieces of Our Hearts

Remember the Technology Tuesday last week on The Secret Life of Pets? We mentioned a guy, you may remember from the Old Testament, by the name of Joseph.  He’s the one with the brothers.  And the coat.  Actually, the jealous brothers.  He’s the one Max and Duke, from the movie could relate to.  And he’s the one our 2nd-4th grade camp teaching was based around.

Genesis 29 tells the story of Joseph.  We used the version from the Jesus Storybook Bible that ends with...

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Hopetown Highlights - Session 2 - Boys Camp - A Lesson in Being Alert

This week's Hopetown Highlight is brought to you by, Connor Brown, one of Hopetown Intern's.

“So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ - that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.” Colossians 3:1-2, MSG

Our third camp of the summer, half a week devoted solely to high school boys, began with this verse, a charge not to become absorbed with the humdrum of daily life, with the rigors of school and activities, but to focus instead on the man God intended you to be...

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Hopetown Highlights - Session 2 - Girls Camp

“Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them.  The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?’ They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.  Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, ‘The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.’ Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.  Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. ‘Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?’  ‘No one, Master.’  ‘Neither do I,’ said Jesus. ‘Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.’  John 8:1-12

Jesus once again addressed them: ‘I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.’

This verse started off Melissa’s teaching to the high school all girls’ camp.  "Many of us have read this story many times.  What stands out to you about it here...

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Hopetown Highlights - Session 1 - Discovering Our Internal Identities

 “Keep a cool head.  Stay alert.  The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping.  Keep your guard up.  You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times.  It’s the same with Christians all over the world.  So keep a firm grip on the faith.  The suffering won’t last forever.  It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good.”                                1 Peter 5:8-11, MSG

Our first camp of the summer started off with this verse.  “Stay alert.  You are waking up at your age,” Melissa said to the 11th-12th graders that were with us at camp this last week.  “You’re aware of new things around you and new feelings inside of you.  There’s a destructiveness that you’re waking up to, as well... 

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The Difference A Camp Can Make

When I was growing up, my dream was to own a summer camp.  Actually, my dream wasn’t just to own any summer camp.  It was to own my summer camp, Camp Waldemar, a beautiful, idyllic spot located on the Guadalupe River in the Texas hill country, where several hundred girls gather each summer to stretch their legs and their hearts.  

I still try to make my way back to camp just to smell the cedar trees and sit under the lofty cypress as often as possible.  In fact, I went back to see...

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Hopetown: A New Name - 7th & 8th Graders

This past week, we talked with the 7th-8th graders a lot about Jacob.  His name means “grabber.”  We’re going to pick up at Melissa’s last talk of the camp—and last teaching of the summer…

“Hebrews 11 is considered the hall of fame chapter in the Bible.  It talks about a lot of people who trusted God, even though they had a limp like Jacob.  Jacob’s made it in, too, in verse 21.

‘By an act of faith, Jacob on his deathbed blessed each of Joseph’s sons in turn, blessing them with God’s blessing, not his own—as he bowed worshipfully upon his staff.’

Jacob’s name no longer is grabber.  Now, his name is Israel, with God telling him his descendants will be many.  His name is mentioned over 250 times in the Bible.  He has much to tell us—in his living, his limp, and his dying.

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Hopetown: Fear & Trust with 5th & 6th Graders

This week, we talked a lot about fear and trust.  And the difference between the two.  And how those differences were walked out in the lives of two guys named Caleb and Joshua.  Caleb and Joshua were guys who heard and trusted God, despite what was going on around and even inside of them. 

As 5th and 6th graders, things are changing a lot for you.  You are beginning to see more and feel much more than you ever have before.  Something that didn’t bother you in second grade starts to bother you now.  You worry about what people think—and especially, what they think about you.  It happens to all of us. 

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