Plans are beginning to take shape as we prepare for our trip to Poland at the end of June. One big decision that needed to be made was where the camp would be held. Unlike youth summer camps in the States, which are typically owned by the camp, facilities in Poland must be rented out for the dates of the camp and the location can vary from year to year. The same group that hosts a camp one year might host another camp in a different part of the country another year. This is what is known as an ośrodek, or center, which typically includes dormitory-like living quarters and a cafeteria. Leaders and campers can take advantage of the location to find activities, such as going to the local basen, or pool, going for hikes, or utilizing other facilities offered at that particular ośrodek.
I am excited to announce that this year’s camp will be held at the Ośrodek Radość, a center in the suburbs of Warsaw. This is the same facility where our team served last year, teaching English and leading Bible discussion times and activities. The facility serves as a campus for the Baptist Seminary and is also used for conferences, camps, and other functions. You can read more about its history here.
This year’s camp is being organized by Fundacja Ichthys, and will be structured slightly different from last year’s camp. Rather than helping students with their conversational English, our focus will be more relational. Unlike last year, when students commuted from their homes each morning and left in the evening, the students this year will stay through the week at the campus, allowing more opportunities to interact with and get to know them. I am looking forward to returning to the same ośrodek this year and reuniting with students and leaders we met on our previous trip as well as meeting and building friendships with new students attending this year.
A few have asked what makes a Bible camp for Poland’s youth different than a Bible summer camp in the States. Aside from details such as the location of the camp facilities, Polish youth camps offer a unique and strategic opportunity for evangelism and discipleship that are critical in the efforts being made to bring the gospel to Poland.
Catholicism is inseparable from Polish nationalism and pride, and it has been credited with sustaining the people throughout periods of conflict and oppression. If you are Polish, you are also Catholic. However, with Poland’s liberation from Soviet occupation and control and an increase in Western influences, today’s generation is asking questions and seeking answers in a way that has not been seen before. As Poland’s economy grows, so does the popularity of both materialism and postmodernism.
Fundacja Ichthys has the privilege of receiving substantial funding from the Polish government to do a variety of ministries, including those involving youth. Poland is a fascinating paradox; while it clings to the stability and sense of identity offered by tradition, its relatively recent liberation has inspired the exploration of novel perspectives and methodologies. Working with youth is a unique chance to bring the gospel to the nation’s next generation of leaders and offer biblical tools and principles for navigating a rapidly shifting political, economic, religious climate.
Our team is making efforts to raise financial support and also to recruit willing hands to serve and partner with us. Please continue to pray as preparations for the camp are made, and that God would continue to provide for the students who will be attending and for our team as well. Pray that we would be humble as we approach this ministry, and that we would be sensitive and obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Thank you for your continued prayer and support!