Camp Henry welcomed nearly 50 youths from our Latino community for the first-ever Bilingual Camp the week of July 24, and those involved are hopeful to do all it again next year.
The youths enjoyed everything there is to love about being at Camp Henry and dove deep into their roots with bilingual programming led by diocesan missioners the Rev. Oscar Rozo and Charlotte Garcia. Along with swimming, dancing, singing, games of trash can lid, and skills like tubing, soccer, swimming, and archery, chapel time presented the opportunity to discuss the love of God and subjects close to the heart of bilingual youth.
This camp came at no cost to the families and was made possible by some generous churches and grants.
For the past couple of Sundays, the gospel of Matthew has provided us with a set of images of the kingdom of heaven. All of these parables illustrate small things, a seed, yeast, a pearl, a treasure, and a fishing net, that moved by the guidance of God's Spirit become large reminders of God's abundant and eternal love.
In the same way, Bilingual Camp started as a small idea that engaged many and developed into an amazing summer camp experience for Latino/Hispanic youth, their families, diocesan staff, camp staff, and volunteers.
Two years ago, during one of our diocesan camp sessions, the Rev. Liz Tester, Jessica Forbes LeFiles, and the diocesan missioner for Latino / Hispanic ministries, the Rev. Oscar A. Rozo, began to dream about the possibility of creating a camp experience for the Latino/Hispanic community in Western North Carolina.
In 2022, LeFiles connected with the Rev. Deacon Diane Livingston from the Episcopal Church of St. Philip's in Brevard, which already had a relationship with the Latino/Hispanic Community of El Centro in Transylvania County. In the fall of 2022, LeFiles applied for diocesan grants (Patricia Minkler Howell Children's Outreach Grant and PITTA grant) and received funds from other churches in the diocese to start financial support for our first Bilingual Camp.
"We came together to provide a summer camp experience to a minority group in our diocese and came out transformed by God's love and ready to have more Bilingual Camp experiences and youth gatherings throughout the diocese," Rozo said.
Along with the generosity of the churches in our diocese and the help of grants, the first Bilingual Camp wouldn't have been possible without the hands to make it happen.
"A steady stream of volunteers at camp helped to translate and make the week as seamless as possible. Frank Townsend and the rest of the camp staff worked so hard to make this last week of summer one for the books! Some of these youths have never been to a camp like Camp Henry, and they really enjoyed it. Many are already counting down the days until next year!" Garcia said.
Photos by Emeline Scales and Rachel Carr