First Full Day of Camp

Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Kumasi, Ashanti Region, Ghana
We woke up this morning ready for the first full day of camp! After breakfast of a boiled egg, some bread and a chicken sausage, (along with coffee or tea or Milo – which are specially provided for us westerners), we had the first compass check by our pastor from Kumasi, Reuel Dima. He had a more general message about the importance of internalizing the teachings of Jesus Christ in order to have a better vision in life.
The activities all started well, and even the new division of the campers, dividing the camp into girls and boys teams of 12 – 15 each, seems to be working well. Previously the entire camp was just divided into four teams of 25 each, and they did all the activities as a large group. This allows for better division of the campers as well as boys playing boys in the more physical sports without worry of perhaps hurting one of the smaller girls.
Unfortunately, the manager of this location came to us today with more changes. She had told us yesterday that we have exclusive use of the dining hall, so we set up for Arts and Crafts there. At noon she came and told us if we are using it for anything other than eating it will result in a daily charge of 350 cedis! The problem is this is outside of the agreement we’ve had, and we’ve already paid the bill in full. It appears she is simply trying to come after more money from us.
So we moved Arts and Crafts to another smaller classroom, which worked just as well. Then at dinner tonight she came back and said she’s rented that smaller room to another group, so we have to move again! Tomorrow it appears they will be set up on the porch outside the dining hall.
It is a good thing we have used this facility prior to the Feast of Tabernacles, because it has really revealed the character of the people in charge. Even if we make an agreement, they do not feel bound to keep it, and have made multiple changes even since we have arrived. It is starting to feel like Jacob who had his wages changed 10 times by the greedy Laban. Therefore we have now made the decision that we will not be able to keep the Feast here. Even if she agrees to go back to our original agreement, we have no confidence or guarantee that she will honor that agreement when the Feast arrives. And it would be so much more difficult to work through these things with 500+ people living on the site for 10 days. So with short notice, we are now actively searching for another feast site.
Volleyball was another challenge that was met with a unique solution. There is no volleyball court, and while we were told the camp could provide uprights, in the end they did not. So, armed with machetes, several of our men waded out into the brush and cut down two trees that are approximately 8” in diameter at the base. Then with another machete, and the help of what appears to be one half of a set of post hole diggers, they dug holes, buried the large ends and firmed the “poles” up fairly well! They found some old nails and put them in the wood and bent them to hold the net, and presto – a new volleyball court! The net is actually closer to 12’ high than what I believe is the standard 10’, but it works!
The rest of the day seemed to go well. I’m not certain when the first youth summer camp was held here, but it must be close to 15 years ago. Over that period of time the camp culture has been taught and has spread, so that many of the issues we have struggled with in the past are largely resolved. Now we are more involved with refining what we do rather than having to work with a lot of larger, more monumental issues. So long as the management doesn’t pull any further surprises, I expect the rest of the camp to go very smoothly.
I was a little concerned about our evening meal because the kitchen was preparing Kenke – a dish made of fermented corn mash, mixed with some spices and then wrapped back in the corn husk and baked on the fire. One of our group tried some earlier in the trip, and while most Ghanaians seem to enjoy it, no one in our group really cared for it.
But to our surprise, dinner tonight was completely fresh fruit! We had fresh coconut (Reuel Dima used a large knife to help us open the tops, and then with straws we had the fresh milk and the meat), pineapple, banana, mango, apple, papaya and fresh avocado! Often from the very large bowls of rice and other items they bring, there is a sizable portion left, because we just can’t eat that much. However this time, there was not a single scrap of fruit remaining! All the volunteers left the table with smiles!
For the evening games several of the staff had organized some relay races. The campers always seem to enjoy them, but inside the building the noise level reaches an almost unimaginable volume! They had fun, but I’m pretty sure the decibel levels endured have helped move me closer to the time when I may need hearing aids…
Earlier today we were approached by some government officials who asked our permission to make an hour long presentation on narcotics and drug abuse to the campers. The use of street drugs is becoming more of a problem in Ghana, so the government has developed a program that they are trying to use with as many gatherings of student-aged children as they can. It is no charge, and they weren’t demanding, simply asking if they could. I feel such a presentation would probably be good for the campers to hear, to warn them about the terrible dangers of being drawn into the world of drugs and drug abuse. So we should have that presentation to them tomorrow evening after dinner. 
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Mary Hendren

It's good you had this pre-Feast warning about how things are managed, and we'll pray about your search for a FOT site. Inspiring to read of all the improvising to get things going.