Well, my first camp as Camp Director is on the books. And now I am being asked to give you an update on how it went. I could tell you about all the things we did, and we did a lot. Lots of training and speakers, lots of activism and outreach. I could tell you about the lives saved and minds changed, and there were some (that we know of).
But to be honest, if it wasn't for the time of sharing we have at the end, I would've told you the camp went terribly! I was starting to ask,Is this really worth it? As the director, it felt like most of my time was spent putting out fires and herding cats, and I was only seeing all the little things that inevitably go wrong with an event like camp.
But at the Candlelight Vigil on the last night, it all became worth it. That's when all the campers get a chance to share what's on their hearts, and we get to see the fruit of our labor. There's a profound sense of unity and purpose, and the singing is the loudest of all of camp.
They share about the friendships they have made, how their lives have been changed and how they are committing their lives to the fighting for the unborn. They share how they now realize they are Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust.
For example, first-time camper Grace DeLillo, 14, shared that although she had grown up actively pro-life, the realization of how bad abortion really is hadn't sunk in until the Memorial we had at Odd Fellows Cemetery.
16,433 aborted babies (more than five times the number of born people buried elsewhere in the cemetery) were buried there in 1985, the year I was born. So it is an appropriate place for my mom and I to share our testimony and show them they really are Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust.
The reality is, if our goal was just doing activism and outreaches, we could do it just as effectively and efficiently with a smaller group of seasoned activists. But that's not what camp is about.
For many, the camp experience is a decisive experience in their lives. Survivors Camp is a training camp, yes. We train them to be pro-life activists. But Survivors Camp is also a training camp, where they get that camp experience that many can look back on as a pivotal point in their lives.
Together they have walked through the fire. Together they have had to defend, maybe for the first time, their convictions in the face of adversity. Together they share the experience of being Survivors. Together they have been changed. And that's worth it.
Many past campers have gone on to start their own organizations or groups, joined the Survivors Campus Outreach Team, organized their own outreaches in their own areas, or have merely seen the worth of pro-life work and committed themselves to supporting the cause however they can.
Veronica Fealy, who turned 15 during camp, said... "God always shines the light into darkness, which is why I think so many friendships are made at Survivors. We lost so many of our friends to abortion, but God pulled us all together to fight as friends for our lost ones. We are called to be God's light no matter what belief, no matter what age, no matter what race or gender. We all came to camp and God bonded us. We all laughed, cried, sang, prayed, ran, grew, and fought together, and we continue that fight for life even after camp is over."
Camp changes people.
Rev. James Conrad
Director of Training and Apologetics | Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust