UGM Camp: Treasuring At-Risk Kids

Posted by Union Gospel Mission Jul 10, 2015 2:43:00 PM

Two weeks into camp and amazing things are already taking place. The following are two incredible stories written by UGM Camp Photographer/Blogger Clare Pursch.

Let's go ride a bike

The first week of UGM Camp, one of our staffers, Morgan Naylor, worked at the bike shed. She handed out bikes to a group of young boys who came by, and they all went on their way.

All but one.

She noticed one had stayed behind, looking a little bit lost. She asked him what was wrong, and he said “I need help getting on.” To that response she was bewildered, since he was already sitting on the bike. At this point, his leader came to him and asked “What do you mean, buddy?” to which he replied “I need help getting on the peddles….I’ve never rode a bike before.”

Instead of the leader, Baden, telling him that he should get off the bike and do something else for free time, he took it upon himself to teach him. Baden was wearing sandals from going down to water front, so he ran all the way back up to their cabin to put on closed-toed shoes in order to be able to run beside the little boy as he held him up and taught him how to ride a bike.Riding_a_bike

Baden, in humility and love, stooped down with grace and became the hands and feet of Jesus to that little boy. I’m sure it was incredibly humbling for that little boy to admit in front of his friends that he had never been taught to ride a bike, and he was probably expecting to be shamed in return. But because of Baden’s reaction, he was shown Jesus’ love and grace.

For the next two hours, Baden held onto the bike and ran behind that little boy without ceasing. He made him feel safe, treasured, and worth the effort.

I don’t think that little boy will ever forget the day a selfless leader that he had just met decided to drop everything in order to teach him to ride a bike, which is something I’m sure he had only dreamed of for years.

It was a sight I will never forget and a story that speaks of Christ’s grace.

Grace like that is what changes lives.

Celebrated and Treasured 

As camp photographer, I get the immense privilege of capturing some of the most precious moments at UGM Camp.

Last week at Camp, as I was going from one free-time station to the next, capturing photos of kids riding bikes, splashing in the cool water, or having sweet little conversations over a table of bracelet beads, I got a call on my radio that I was needed over at the archery station.

I ran over as soon as I could, and when I got there, I was quickly informed by fellow staffer, Rachael Pursch, that I needed to take a photo of a sweet girl named Jaylin. Jaylin had miraculously shot one arrow through another arrow, during archery.

I looked over at the girl and congratulated her, telling her how absolutely amazing that is! She just smiled shyly, with rims of tears in her eyes… She couldn’t believe that she had just done something so amazing and memorable. The staff and I all joined in congratulating her and making her feel special and valued.Jaylin_arrows

I took her over to the target with the arrows and had her pose for a few photos, holding the two arrows in her hand. And she was simply overjoyed. I saw a joy and peace in her eyes that I hadn’t seen yet that week. She felt like a celebrity in that moment; she felt celebrated, talented, special.

I walked away from the scene with joy in my steps, knowing that Jaylin had felt special in that moment. It was a moment she will carry with her for the rest of her life. A moment she will be proud of. A story she can tell her friends and family. That moment alone made all the heat, exhaustion, and blisters worth it.

Because of the opportunity to participate in archery, we were able to give that little girl a moment to hold on to for the rest of her life—a moment in which she felt treasured by people and by God.

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Topics: grace, UGM Camp


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