Monte Blanco Transforming Young Lives in Bolivia
Very few Latin American youth get the chance enjoy the fun of summer camp and Christian camps are few and far between.
But the ones that do exist have set the lives of thousands of youth on a different course.
CBN News' Stan Jeter went to a camp in Boliva called Monte Blanco. The camp is earning the admiration and support of teachers and parents alike.
When students arrive at the Monte Blanco they embark on an adventure that touches the lives of more than 5,000 junior high and high school campers every year.
Christian camps with an emphasis on fun and games are rare in Latin America. The campus dates back to 1952, when New Tribes Mission established the Tambo Boarding School for missonary children.
Tim Ramsey attended Tambo in the 1960s while his missionary parents worked wiith the primitive Ayore Tribe. Today Ramsey it s the president of Latcom Mission.
He has taken his old mission school campus and turned it into one of Latin America's model Christian Camps. Over the past 10 years Monte Blanco has become a magnet for campers.
"We use food, fun, and fellowship, which are really the three primary reasons any youth or kid goes to camp," Ramsey said. "They don't go because of their spiritual needs, or, 'Oh, I have a driving desire to accept Jesus Christ," he added.
The fun and fellowship include outdoor games and team-building competitions, all focused on a single purpose.
"From the time they get off the bus to the time they get back on the bus to leave our facility, every activity they're in has a purpose, has a significance that is working together to draw them towards a decision moment, whether to accept Christ or to reconcile their lives with him and change - basically a direction change in their lives," Ramsey explained.
Typically up to 300 campers at a time experience Monte Blanco's mixture of fun and spirituality. Berea Christian School is one of many that sends it's students to the camp.
Principal Samuel Correa said a highlight for many of his students is the bonfire.
"Something they really remember is going up the mountain," Correa said. "Those are times they'll never forget and they talk about all the time. They say on that mountain, they talked to me from the Word of God," Correa added.
The same message is reinforced during chapel and other activities.
When students make the commitment to follow Christ it doesn't take long for their families back home to notice the difference. There is also a noticable change in their school performance.
"They are much more responsible, much more dedicated. They do their homework. They do better in their tests. They get along better with their teachers," Ramsey said. "So they have a better climate for fully developing themselves."
Other principals have noticed similar changes in their schools, Ramsey said one principal told him grades went up, and there was even a dramatic drop in drug use and rebellion in schools.
The sucess of this Bolivian camping project has created new opportunities, motivating the Monte Blanco Staff to take Christian camping on the road - and even up the river.
The camp even reached a small town in the Amazon, where more than 300 youth came together for a camping conference.
As the Monte Blanco expands it's influence, Ramsey and the staff hope that many more Christian leaders will develop camping programs as an effective instrument for transforming Latin America's youth.
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