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High Fives

When Russell Hinson stood up to tell his congregation about the week of Lutheroad Day Camp they’d had at Living Saviour Lutheran Church in Charlotte, NC, he said, “I want to tell you how God has moved in this camp!”


What made the day camp at Living Saviour so memorable for Russell and so many others was the inclusion of children from local refugee families. Through a relationship with a relief agency working among refugees in the community, Living Saviour invited children from Ukrainian families to attend the one-week day camp at the church.


“On the first evening, we hosted a meal for the campers and their families,” Russell says. “I noticed that the American kids and families sat together on one side of the room, and the Ukrainian kids and families sat together on the other. The Ukrainian families were a little uneasy because this was a new experience for them, and there were some language barriers. Still, everyone was very thankful for the opportunity to be there.”


The diversity of the day camp group required some creativity by the camp staff.  The Lutheroad counselors paired campers with a new buddy each day to get comfortable with others they did not know.  Because singing songs in English was challenging for some of the children, music time included songs with more movement and fewer words. To ensure Ukrainian parents would know what was happening each day at camp, the camp staff used Google translate to create take-home announcement pages in multiple languages.


“Every night, we referred back to our staff training,” says Lutheroad area director Grace Welch. “In training, we learned there are different kinds of at-risk campers who need extra love and support. The Ukrainian children needed extra love and support. But because this week was so unique, we also realized all the campers needed extra love.” The love and creative leadership of the camp staff had a tremendous impact on the campers.  “As the week progressed, the campers didn’t stay segregated,” remembers Grace. “By Friday, they were all friends, and the language barrier had given way to smiles and high-fives!”


“One camper was so terrified on the first day,” Russell remembers. “Halfway through the week, his mother dropped him off early, and he was playing ball with a counselor.  The mother came up to the check-in desk and said, ‘He hasn’t been able to go out and play for the last year because of the war. This is the first time he’s played with anyone.’”


The week was transformational for everyone, not only the staff and campers but also for Living Saviour.

“It was a week filled with so many God moments,” Russell declares, “The Spirit of God was in this camp.”


Your generosity to NovusWay helps us train counselors with the skills necessary to bring creativity and leadership into diverse settings. These skills transform children and church communities through Lutheroads and go with these amazing young adults into their future lives and careers. Thank you for helping us form faith, build community, and develop strong leaders.