Earlier this month we had the opportunity to spend 10 days helping out with two childrens “summer camps” held in the south of Thailand. Beautiful Phang Nga province was hit harder by the Tsunami of 2005 than anywhere_else in Thailand. Several months after the Tsunami YWAM and the Evangelical Church of Bangkok pulled together a summer camp designed to love the children in the region. Since that time this summer camp has become an annual event with_more students from Baan Jai Diaow_helping out each year.
|Khao Lak Kids Kamp|
Travelling on the overnight bus from Bangkok to Phang Nga was a little surreal. On the bus were 30 some-odd “farang” (foreigner) high school and junior high youth group kids, a smattering of parents, a youth pastor, 20 Thai_college_students, and us._Inside the bus it_kind of felt like a youth group trip in the states. Outside the bus we were still in Thailand. Not so much like a youth group trip from the states. Especially when pulling into the all-night rest stop where it was easier to find dried squid and shrimp cakes than oreos and funions :). More than 200 kids came to the first camp, it was well organized, fun, and a great example of foreigners and Thais working together. More than 70 of the kids decided that they wanted to get to know Jesus by the end of the camp. We helped with registration (a little) and odd jobs (a lot). Kashmira’s highlight was seeing one troubled little girl go from hitting, biting and scratching to smiling and asking if Kashmira had ever played with clay before all in the span of about 30 seconds during crafts one day.
The last day of the first summer camp was Songkran – Thailand’s new years festival and three day long waterfight. Every kid showed up at camp with a watergun. Groups of Thais of all ages_piled into the backs of_pickup trucks with garbage cans full of ice water dousing anyone_within reach. Or if a truck_wasn’t available, then they would stand on the side of the road with hoses spraying any passer-bys or attempting to get the people in the pickup trucks wet from far enough away to stay dry themselves. But nobody really stays dry. We didn’t take any pictures this year because we were too involved in the water fighting, but maybe next year we will figure out how to capture it on film.
|Daow’s Kids Kamp|
After the first summer camp_was over,_and_all the foreigners went back to Bangkok,_the Thai students from Baan Jai Diaow piled into a van and the back of a pickup truck and we all headed_about an_hour down the road to Daow’s home town. Thai people know how to party, and our first night at Daow’s was one heck of a party – everyone chipped in to make a seafood BBQ, complete with clams, crabs, fried fish, squid, fish curry and rice – it was a blast. Daow grew up on a rubber tree plantation out in the woods, went off to college in Bangkok, lived at Baan Jai Diaow, and is now on the performing arts team for YWAM Thailand._She is also, it turns out, an amazingly gifted summer camp organizer! The second summer camp was envisioned, planned and staffed entirely by Thais – and it was marvelous. We got to tag along to help teach an English segment of the camp as native English speakers. Maybe 30 kids showed up the first day, and over 50 came the second. At the end of each day anywhere from a half-dozen to a dozen kids would follow us back to Daow’s house, and just play. They kept asking, “Why are you only here for two days? Why can’t we have more summer camp?” Daow is planning to bring people back down South to do another camp in 3 months – and the kids_will be_waiting. (We also got to explore Phang Nga province with our friends from Baan Jai Diaow before coming home… beautiful!)__