“Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.”

Psalm 33:22

Yesterday we said goodbye to the third group of youth campers. Tomorrow we welcome another group. Summer is off to a great start! Since our last update, there has been one more week of summer staff training followed by three weeks of campers. The first week we hosted 4th-6th graders on the West Side and 7th-9th graders on the East Side. After that we hosted 4th-6th graders on the West Side and 9th-12th graders on the East Side. And last week we had 3rd-5th graders on West and 7th-9th on East. As always there are a lot of moving parts to make everything happen. Before we lived here when I would come volunteer for a week it always amazed me to see how many different pieces all work at the same time to run a week of camp. And now living here I am no less amazed at the same thing. I honestly feel like such a small, small part of the whole.

Jim continues his role running things in the office which keeps him pretty sufficiently busy these days! He has jumped fully into all of the business end of camp. I’m quite sure I previously underestimated the amount of “business” required to run camp! This year some things are running along the same as they always have, some things are new and different due to updated state regulations and our own camp schedule change this summer. I am certainly not the expert on all that keeps Jim busy in the office, but one thing I do know is that it is amazing to see skills that Jim has gathered all through his years of work experience be used in the ministry here. The Lord really has been preparing Jim for years to be able to come and fill needs here.

Separate from his office work, Jim also completed his bus driver’s training over the last few weeks. First, he studied at home and had to pass several written tests. Then a week ago, he spent Sunday-Thursday in Owosso doing the actual driving and hands on portion of the training. He passed all of that, completed the actual licensing at the Secretary of State, and yesterday drove one of the buses headed south with campers! If you know the drill with parents and their kids at the Barakel buses….photos in front of the buses, videos as they drive off….yep, that was me yesterday morning with my husband!

As for me, I have continued to be on the work schedule some weeks playing piano in chapels. I played for the East Siders right away the first week of campers and again this past week. Although the need for piano players is due to less summer staff than normal, I am actually very thankful for the opportunity to fill that need. Different environments, be it various churches, camps or other worship groups, all have their own niche of worship music and how it gets ‘fleshed out’ in a service. I am glad for the chance to get practice in the Barakel chapel niche of worship music. To be honest, it almost feels like cheating to be on the work schedule for something as lovely as playing music in chapel. I thank the Lord for the background I have that can now be useful to Him in this setting.

Here is a little update on each of our girls, youngest to oldest since we almost always list them the other way around. 😉

Lydia has had some variety that last few weeks. She’s had some very quiet time at home spent reading, which she always loves; she has spent time “staff-kidding” around camp; she has happily helped me with some gardening chores improving the outside of our staff home; she was a camper this past week on east side and loved the chance to fully “belong” in the camp schedule. Pray for her as she navigates the different seasons of staff kid life.

Mary Emma is currently beginning her third week at a ballet intensive outside of Chicago with a dance company called Ballet 5:8. It has been a good fit for her this summer for a couple of reasons. Since she had to audition for the particular level she is in, it assured that she would spend the three weeks working at a level that would challenge her and push her ahead, but at a sustainable pace. Also, as a Christian ballet company, it provides a hard-to-find blend of her passion for the art of dance with her Christian faith and worldview. This is not at all an easy thing to find in the world of fine arts and we are so thankful that she can go and grow with a group of people who “speak both languages.” Pray for her (and us!) as she makes decisions about her future course of study with ballet, even as we consider various options in the fall for her senior year.

Grace continues to serve in the leadership of summer staff. She is overseeing and supporting the female counselors, and is also helping to coordinate the young adult program staff which functions as a somewhat separate group from the counselors. These roles are often filled by separate people, but much of the leadership are playing more than one role due to the smaller number of staff this year. She is doing well with that, although it is for sure overwhelming at times. She has the gift of a joyful spirit, and it is serving her well this summer. But even the most joyful people can become discouraged under strain. Pray for her as she continues to serve through the last half of the summer.

Thank you for catching up with us, if you’ve read this far, and for supporting us prayerfully or financially. We are doing well in the north woods, even as we continue to learn through our first summer here.

Rachel, for the Bennetts

Lydia and her friend, Bella, from our sending church. They were so excited to go to camp together.
He drove the fish bus yesterday
Ready to roll!