Hopetown Highlight #7: 7th-8th Grade

“You have forgotten who you are.”

It was one of the most pivotal moments in The Lion King, when Rafiki took Simba to the water to see his and his father’s reflection. And it’s a moment we went back to over and over with the 7th and 8th graders this week.

In 7th and 8th grade, it is next to impossible to remember who you are—you’re still just trying to figure it out…

Read More

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…

Read More

Hopetown Highlight #4: 9th and 10th Grade Camp

The heart is considered the seat of personality. It’s what makes us unique and impacts what we think, feel, and do. And it’s what we spent our 9th-10th Grade Retreat talking a lot about.

Yes, we skied and tubed and swam. We biked 14 miles through farmland to a yummy restaurant for lunch. We cooked Thanksgiving dinner together and exchanged $3 Christmas gifts bought from an antique store to represent someone else. We did all the fun things that usually happen at Hopetown…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

Storms, Shipwrecks, and Planks of Remembrance: Hopetown Highlights, 5th-6th Grade Camp

“How many of you have fallen down before?  You understand, then.  We try so hard to do something right, and we still fall down.  Your parents encourage you and build you up, and you still fall flat on your face.  That’s the thing about trying to have confidence.  It just doesn’t work for very long.  The Bible says it like this:

We are just as capable of messing it up as they were.  Don’t be so naïve and self-confident.  You’re not exempt.  You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else…

Read More

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… 

Read More

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…

Read More

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… 

Read More

Strengthening Your Hand in God-11th and 12th Grade Camp-Hopetown Highlight #1

(This is something you could share in a family devotional or with the kids in your life.  We’d highly suggest you watch the movie Wonder together first!)

In the movie Wonder, the mom says to Auggie, “Your face shows where you’ve been and your heart shows where you’re going.”  This week at camp, we talked about the same kind of idea…but with hands, rather than faces…

Read More

Hopetown Highlights - Session 4 - 7th-8th Grade Camp - You are Chosen

Almost every meeting of our 7th-8th grade camp started off the same way.  Two of our interns, Kenneth and Sarah, would stand up and start running in place.  Melissa would start talking, almost as if they weren’t running in the middle of the group.  Then, one by one, someone would start to encourage them.  One of the guys or girls would shout out a sentence like, “You’re doing great!”  They would run a little faster…As our week went on, others would also get up and run alongside them, sharing in their race.

The last day of camp was our Hopetown Christmas celebration.  On that last morning...

Read More

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...

Read More

Hopetown Highlights - Session 4 - 9th-10th Grade Camp - Changing from the Inside Out

"For as he thinks within himself, he is…" Proverbs 23:7

"Our brains think in 1300 words per minute...", Melissa told us during our 9th-10th grade camp.  A majority of those thoughts are negative.  Have you noticed? What kinds of things do you say to yourself?  Are you critical of others? Are you critical of yourself? Do you say things to yourself like...

Read More

A Technology Tuesday Guide to the Secret Life of Pets (via Hopetown Highlight)

Our 2nd-4th grade camp started off with a bang—or woof—as we took the bus straight to the movie, the Secret Life of Pets.  It was one with a lot of good messages—particularly ones that pertain the secret life of 2nd-4th graders.  

Melissa started off our first teaching time with a few questions, (which happen to be ones we thought might be good to start some discussions with your children)...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

I'm Standing With You: Final Camp Hopetown Week

“What do you want?”

A few nights in to our final camp of the summer, Melissa asked the 7th-8th graders this question.  Their answers were:

“I want a safe place from rejection.”

“I want to be included.”

“I want confidence.”

“I want community.”

“I want people to be kind to me.”

“I want people to think I’m really great.”

“I want people to accept me.” READ MORE

Read More

Q&A Thursday: How Can I Help My Child Prepare for Summer Camp?

As a Director of a summer camp, I have a lot of conversations with parents about their children going away for the first time.  I also see more than a few homesick tears come June and July.  We wanted to give you a few tips to help prevent—or at least provide comfort in the midst of them.

Many children who struggle with homesickness have never spent the night out.  As simple as it sounds, they need practice.  You will do your child and the camp a tremendous favor if your child has a gradual experience of staying away from home before they’re thrust into a high-energy/highly stimulating environment with dozens or even hundreds of other children.

  1. Start with a family member.  Have your child pick a grandparent or an aunt or uncle to stay with for the first time.  Have dinner with them in their home and then leave early enough before bedtime that they have another enjoyable activity to look forward to.  If you leave at bedtime, their tears may be more from tiredness than true homesickness. READ MORE
Read More