Camden has been such a blast so far! We arrived at around 7pm Sunday night and had pizza for dinner and our first worship night as a team. Monday morning we were up bright and early to meet the other work teams and get some orientation from the urban promise leadership. After an intro to UP, we were given an interesting yet thought provoking and challenging tour of the city and its neighbourhoods, a mass grave of still born babies from a heroin and cocaine crisis in the mid eighties, UP’s Boat Works where kids learn how to build canoes and kayaks, and general information about the city and its history and demographics. The afternoon was spent preparing for Junior High Olympics and we closed with another evening of worship.
Tuesday we opened the day with a devotional led by the principal of Urban Promise Forward School, then work projects before lunch and the first day of Olympics – Spirit Day – consisting of team building challenges. Our evening was filled by a screening and discussion of The Sunset Limited.
Today, Wednesday, was begun with more work projects around campus before kicking off day two of Olympics – Mental Day – featuring fear factor style challenges. We are now preparing for Youth Night (similar to The Underground).
We look forward to Physical Day of Olympics and meeting up with the Wilmington team tomorrow before wrapping up Olympics and a trip into Philadelphia and the journey home.
We’ve had such an awesome week so far! We’ve been serving with the kids at camp freedom and doing various projects around the city and the camp. Here’s a little glimpse of what we’ve been up too!
Here’s Alison and MIchael scrubbing the grease off the doors of camp freedom on tuesday morning
Here’s Alison and Rahman doing after school program homework
Matt Wells getting beat at a game of pickup basketball!
Our team having lunch in the park yesterday. NO SNOW HERE 🙂
We’ve raised money, planned the details, packed our bags and now the day is here to head down to Urban Promise for a life changing week of serving others. Our grade 9/10 students head to Wilmington Deleware and our grade 11/12 students head to Camden New Jersey. The mission of Urban Promise USA has been to equip children and young adults with the skills necessary for academic achievement, life management, spiritual growth, and leadership. They strive to fulfill this mission through after-school programs, summer camps, schools, experiential learning, job training, and a host of other programs that challenge youth to develop and realize their potential. The neighbourhoods in which Urban Promise find themselves are economically struggling and the kids don’t have access to many resources to better their future, this is where Urban Promise fills the gap. Our teams will be doing a variety of different jobs around the city as well as building relationships with children at the march break day camps.
Ways you can pray:
– amazing attitudes of selfless service for God
– the children we will be working with
– that God uses this experience to grow our students spiritually
– that we get many opportunities to love people in the neighbourhoods we are serving
– unity in our teams
We have limited wifi but we are going to do our best to do more updates from both trips this week! Check back!
Right now our team is loading the vans, cleaning the bathrooms, clearing out the kitchen, and getting ourselves on the road home! The last few days were truly incredible. Friday we said farewell to the other work groups, the UrbanPromise staff, and of course the children and youth that we connected with over the course of the week. It’s always a difficult time for the team to say goodbye.
Thursday I had the special privilege to bring my friend Kyle over to have dinner with the team. He loves getting to spend some extra time with us, and the students loved playing tag and double-dutch with him!
Friday evening, we headed into Philadelphia to help serve a meal with chosen300, an organization that serves over 1000 meals per week in the Philadelphia area. It was a humbling, but truly joyful experience for our team. Learn more about chosen300 at www.chosen300.org
Saturday was our time to let the trip breathe a little bit in our hearts. We spent some time hanging out together in Philly checking out the Liberty Bell, the Rocky steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and of course taking in some delicious Philly cheesesteaks. Saturday evening, we were blessed to have the Wilmington team join us for dinner and some time of debrief and worship. It was amazing to hear how God moved through both experiences. I am so glad that we gave the students time to process what they experienced and consider how this is going to shape their lives when they return home.
Today it’s all about getting home to see MY wife and son…oh…I mean for ALL of us to see our loved ones!!
Right now it’s almost 8:00 and we should be hitting the road in the next 15 mins. We told all the parents that we will be arriving back at The Meeting House by 8:00pm, but I think we will be early. Make sure to follow #theUGcamden on twitter for updates on our travel.
God bless, can’t wait to see you all!
The last few days in Camden have been packed with hard work and high energy fun. Yesterday our team spent most of the morning working outdoors (in heavy rain) helping unload a storage area that is going to be renovated for a local church. It was really incredible watching the teamwork of all the different groups working together. We are joined in Camden by groups of college students from Kentucky, West Virginia, and Iowa. The rainy day work project was a really great bonding experience for everyone involved. Today our work projects shifted to some landscaping and gardening work around the UrbanPromise campus. This is the kind of work that truly blesses UrbanPromise because our team literally saves them thousands of dollars in labour by helping with regular care and maintenance.
These last couple days our group has also been fully engaged in the After School Olympics. These afternoons have been loud and energetic and TONS of fun!
Overall I’ve been really impressed with the way this team has taken hold of every opportunity they are in. From basic duties around the church we are sleeping at, to our work projects and Olympics responsibilities the students from our group have made me really proud with their work ethic and encouraging attitudes. Everyone back home should be really proud of the way these young people are representing The Meeting House and Canada!
Last night we got settled into our home for the week. We are staying in a church near Camden in the borough of Haddonfield. Our whole team is crammed into a large room in the basement; some were lucky enough to secure a spot on a few couches, but most of the team is sleeping on air mattresses or sleeping bags on the floor. But it’s all smiles for this team, I’m impressed with their constant positive attitude so far.
Join the Sr High Compassion Teams, on Saturday February 9th at the Oakville Site (2700 Bristol Circle, Oakville), for their silent auction and coffee house. It will be a night of talented musicians, meeting the compassion teams, great baked goods/desserts, and an incredible silent auction. The event is from 7-9:30pm. You don’t want to miss this incredible time to support our team!
Some top silent auction items include:
2 Lower Level Maple Leafs tickets
2 Raptors Tickets
Gift Card to The Keg
Epson Multimedia Projector (perfect for your home theatre)
Team Canada Hockey jersey
Women’s Casio Watch
Canon Inkjet Photo Printer
Gourmet Gift Baskets (from Flower Creations)
Lemondrop Frozen Yogurt Gift Cards
Artwork, by Kendra Heil
…and so much more!
We would love to have your support! If you would like to donate to this event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. See you February 9th!
Yesterday was straight up awesome!
Our group working with Camp Saved had a fantastic final day of after-school care. It was difficult for all of us to say goodbye, but it was especially touching to see Zack part with his new friend Xavier. At the beginning of the week Xavier appeared to be a very tough and hardened little guy. We learned that Xavier had lost his older brother a few months ago – and he was obviously using his difficult attitude as a means of coping. But over the past few days Zack and Xavier developed a really cool connection. It was a special moment when Zack gave Xavier a picture that he drew for him and they embraced to say farewell.
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Yesterday was full of ups and downs!
Our time with UrbanPromise continues to be so amazing. Yesterday the Olympics group tested their stomachs with FEAR FACTOR. Let’s just say that the puke buckets were on hand at all times! The group working with the after school care at Camp Saved is starting to build some great relationships with the students. I loved watching Amanda as she did an amazing job helping a fourth grade girl named Samantha with her homework. The first day we met Samantha she was dripping with sass and attitude, and it’s been incredible seeing her warm up to our group and receive us as people she trusts.
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Thank you McDonald’s for the free Wi-Fi!
We are really starting to hit our groove in Camden. Yesterday the Olympics team got the Party started! This is an annual event that UrbanPromise always runs over Spring Break. The kids have been looking forward to it for months and our group gets to jump right into this high energy celebration. The Olympics is divided into 5 teams – the Red Raisins, Blue Berries, Black Bus, Yellow Yaks and Green Gooses. Nicole and Lexi are doing a superb job tracking all the scores – Kyle Klassen took the lead on some ice-water apple bobbing – and the rest of the group provided tons of energy!
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