Upon arrival, our kids march through the front door and are greeted by counsellors in bright blue shirts who send them to the gymnasium for some unstructured play to start the day.
The gym is filled with activity stations. In one corner, there is a sheet of plywood with a grid of hundreds of drilled holes. Beside it are buckets of coloured golf tees. These kids are two generations too young to know about Lite-Brite but they quickly figure out what to do with the pegs and perforated board. It is quickly plugged with pegs to create a Pollock meets Seurat-looking collaboration.
At the back of the gym are three large PVC pipes bound together. When tapped, the tubes chime like a pipe organ. Two kids are using their flip-flops to beat out an excited, if decidedly atonal, concerto.
Once the kids have had some time to play and create, they are rounded up and sent upstairs to the theatre. They enter to the rhythmic body percussion of stomps and claps as the camp counsellors lead the kids in an adapted acapella of Queen’s celebrated stadium anthem:[stomp stomp clap] [stomp stomp clap]
we love, we love Jesus
The song fades and Allen, the camp leader, takes the stage to welcome everyone and get the day started:
“I’m so glad God brought you all here today!”
After leading the audience through a series of games and some more songs, he directs their attention to the overhead screen where a short film launches to impart today’s Bible Point.
Allen has the kids repeat this affirmation. He explains that God doesn’t make mistakes and everyone is created with purpose. Allen then calls one of the other counsellors, Ian, to the stage.
Ian brings with him something covered in a garbage bag. He’s been working on this invention for some time and it’s finally ready to be revealed. With the coaxing of a collective drumroll, Ian pulls back the plastic drapery to reveal his creation: a wonky assemblage of carboard, water bottles and rope.
A puzzled silence falls on the theatre and Allen asks the question on everyone’s mind:
“What does it do?”
“I… don’t know,” shrugs Ian.
Allen paces the stage back and forth, sizing up the odd contraption, trying to discern the purpose which, according to today’s Bible Point, it must have.
“You like to help your mom with gardening, right?” Allen asks.
Ian nods and Allen concludes that this thing must be a scarecrow to keep the birds away from her garden. Ian is relieved: if even this crazy collage of odds and ends has a purpose, then so too must everything and everyone in God’s creation.
In various rooms throughout the New City building kids build wind-powered paper rockets, run relay races, act out biblical stories and participate in other high-energy activities that stimulate their enthusiasm and creativity.
It’s nearly noon when the kids return to the theatre. Allen has them go through the week’s Bible Points, making sure these affirmations are taken to heart. As the kids file out of New City, they are each given a paperback Bible, a CD of the week’s songs and an invitation to come back on Sunday for worship.