The Fort Plain, NY camp was one full of determination to bring God’s caring love to this area and to do God’s bidding and care for their children. Under the direction of Pastor Zack Labagh, the local Lutheran pastor, a dedicated group formed made up of Lutheran, Reformed, Catholic, Methodist, Episcopalian and others. Over $21,000 was raised to fund the camp because they knew that their children were still hurting from the past flooding and that Camp Noah was one way to help them.
The camp was held at the Reformed Church, and volunteers were housed in the Lutheran Church building. Volunteers from local groups and churches also were there to serve and make breakfast, lunch and two snacks for the children and staff. The camp was maxed out at 50 children, and what a joy they were! The sad part was that some children were turned away because there was room to accommodate them.
Noah was a big part of the program. Every day Noah gave the children one of his wise sayings that taught them not be afraid because they were prepared and God is with them. There were crafts, songs, and skits with Noah and his family, as well as a daily puppet show. There also was a birthday party for Noah (he was 600), recreation time, a talent show, and of course bible study.
The purpose of Camp Noah is to help children process whatever trauma they have experienced and to build resiliency so that they can face the problems that confront them. During Camp Noah, Fort Plain was flooded again. The emergency sirens were blasting away all day Thursday and Friday, and roads were being closed; but the children were not afraid. God’s mission was complete and successful.
If you are able, volunteer for a Camp Noah next summer. It’s exhausting work, but the joy and peace you receive from doing God’s work is priceless. The looks on the children’s faces from the confusion of day one to the look that, “hey, I am not scared, because I am prepared” on day five is worth the time and effort you will put into the camp. The sad part is leaving on Friday and having to say goodbye to all the children and the local staff. They have become embedded into your heart and you will never forget them.
Camp Noah is a program of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota with which Lutherans from northeastern Pennsylvania have been partnering since 2006. These day-camp programs are set up in host sites in areas which have been impacted by disaster. Teams of volunteers are recruited and trained by the national Camp Noah program and then travel to the host sites to staff the camps. To learn more go to www.campnoah.org or contact Lutheran Congregational Services, 610.770.9205; lutherancongregationalservices.org.