Last week we gathered as 14 volunteers from the USA and 26 Colombians to engage in an English Language immersion experience. Covenant English Camp was born out of the desire of a group of Colombians to have the opportunity to engage with native English speakers and organize a camp for their fellow Colombians and out of the desire and experience of a group of volunteers from the USA to come and participate in such a camp. Last year was our first ever camp of this sort and this year the camp grew and transformed in order to include more participants, with a diverse schedule of learning activities and opportunities for relationship building across cultures. There is no doubt it was an experience worth celebrating and repeating!
People came from Bogota, Medellin, Monteria, San Carlos, Barranquilla, Galapa, Cali, Minnesota and California. People came with varying levels of English, but with a complete disposition to let go of the fear that so often holds them back from practicing English with others and take advantage of the learning opportunity. “Language learning is fun,” was the camp slogan; and it was indeed fun! There were times to gather for reflection and devotions in the morning and evenings. There were classes based on English levels, as well as integrated group activities. The creativity of the groups in their photo contests and bag skits, was quite impressive. We engaged in English language learning as we talked, sang, worked in the kitchen together, made desserts, played soccer, ate together, and played games together
It was a full week, and I am still impressed by the depth of relationships that were built and the way each of the volunteers and participants opened themselves up to share with one another. God’s spirit was present and all the participants commented on the warmth of the people present and their incredible disposition to engage with one another. One of the women from Bogota shared how deeply moved she had been that a person from Minnesota would take the time to sit, drink coffee, and talk one-on-one with her about her family and life in Bogota. Another participant from the USA shared about how it had shaken her out of her complacency and routine and she felt renewed after the quality interactions she had with the participants. The camp values – relationships, diversity, respect, etc – were lived out throughout the 6 days together as we enjoyed God’s gorgeous creation that surrounded us. The Colombian leadership team and volunteer team from the USA put all their heart and soul into making this an enjoyable time for the participants and it shows as many are already making plans to attend next year.