Camp Healing Heart

Elizabeth Rieke has been a worship leader and active participant of NCF for many years. Here she shares her passionate ministry expressed through her work as a hospice social worker. May it touch the healing parts of your heart as well. -Renée

Camp Healing Heart is coming!  
Every fall, these words bring stress and bubbling excitement to my life; I vacillate between them until the day of camp arrives.  Sometimes I wonder how in the world it will all come together while also trying to do my “regular” job. A co-worker transferred to another department, and I have no student intern this year.

I tell God that I’m pretty sure I do have a breaking point somewhere and I’d appreciate not finding it yet, thank you very much!  The “camp dreams” infiltrate my sleep. I wonder if this is the year that I’ll finally say to my managers, “It’s been fun, but I’m bowing out.”

Then applications start coming in, from volunteers and campers, new and returning.  I see the names of volunteers returning for their 3rd, 5th, or 10th time.  Oh right- that’s our Camp Healing Heart family coming back together again. They are passionate about what we’re about to do.  

I meet with a volunteer that is a PhD student in the psychology department at the U of I. She not only brings me her ideas for making our volunteer training better, but agrees to be the one to implement them so as to not add to my workload.  I want to hug her.

I get an email from a dad whose son has been a camper several times (because his brother died.)  Dad shares that his son is now a freshman in marching band, and unfortunately there is a competition on the same day as camp.  He wants me to know that his son can’t wait to be back next year and eventually return as an adult “buddy” volunteer to support a grieving child.  Wow, camp has really made a difference in his life.

I start making phone calls to the parents and guardians that have turned in camper applications for the first time and are feeling a little nervous about what their child is going to experience.  A mom tells me about how her teenager is handling the loss of her dad, and it becomes clear she needs to talk and tell her story as well.  So I listen. 

Training night with the volunteers- there is so much excitement! We ready ourselves to help the children who will arrive the next day.  And then camp day is finally here. 

We watch children transform, little by little, as they realize they are in a safe space to talk about the grief they are experiencing.  They learn tools that can help them cope with this extremely difficult part of life. They come to understand that they are not alone.  There are tears and the beginnings of healing. There is laughter and so much fun. 

And I know…..I’ll do it all over again next year.   

Camp Healing HeartBulletin: 9/15
Order of Service: 9/15
Sermon: Humanity Fully Alive (Hebrews)
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