Whew!  Today was a whirlwind of meeting children and parents, assigning the children to their teams, and kicking off the week.  There was a feeling of jittery excitement in the air as we marched into base camp this morning—I was compelled to stop and listen for a moment to the sweet chorus of happy, little voices filling the sanctuary.

God’s Word was brought to us by the angel Gabriel, who told us about Jesus’ journey from the courts of heaven to earth—He became man for us!  We have another special guest tomorrow—I wonder who it will be? Children, can you guess?

After our lesson, we split up into our classrooms and the teachers explained to the children that we have our own journey—a journey in this life of becoming more like Christ so that we are prepared to meet him at the end of our time on earth.  One specific word we use to describe our journey is sanctification.  The teachers directed the children to the middle of their trail guides where they found lists of things they can do to aid in their sanctification; helping a brother or a sister with a chore, asking mom and dad if they can take out the trash or clean up the living room, reading the Scripture verses we studied today in our classrooms and committing them to memory are a few examples.  I overheard one little boy exclaim to his mother when she picked him up, “Mom! I have a lot of work to do tonight!”  Can you guess why parents love this curriculum?

The benefits to working hard at home extend past the children’s spiritual well-being to something tangible and visual.  Each team is represented by a colored hiker on his journey up the mountain.  The more service and memory work the children do at home, the more points they earn for their team.  The hikers will advance up the mountain depending on how many points have been earned.  Older children enjoy the thrill of competition and it’s a way for them to see that when we choose to obey God and do what He’s said, we draw closer to Him.  We hope to make clear the correlation between knowing God and doing what He says in order that the children may echo the psalmist, “With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!” [Psalm 119:10]

Equally exciting are the stickers they earn in their trail guides—the more they memorize and serve, the more equipped their hiker is for his journey.  They may earn a canteen of water for being on time and having their Bible or a tent for more in-depth memory work.  The younger children are generally more excited about the stickers.  It’s fun to see that page fill up with color!

Today was beautiful day at camp—I look forward to continuing our journey tomorrow!