Camp USA brings international missions to churches in Central and South Louisiana. Thirty-five students in grades 2-9 and their 6 chaperones from South Korea visited Natchitoches on July 18 as part of their three week trip to the United States. They kayaked on Cane River Lake and took a ride on the riverboat where they learned historical facts about the town. They finished the day with a meat pie meal on the downtown riverbank stage.
Camp USA provides churches in Central Louisiana and Ponchatoula the opportunity to experience international missions as part of a partnership of REACH Missions and the Korea Baptist Church Development Board. Now in its 14th year, Camp USA involves over 25 churches in the Cenla Baptist Association (formerly the Central and North Rapides associations) and First Baptist Church in Ponchatoula. Members of the congregation act as host families. The students from South Korea stay with them during their visit to the states.
Bonnie Branim of Pineville has sponsored children for Camp USA for over 10 years now through the Gathering Place Church in Wardville. She is hosting two girls this summer.
“We enjoy the opportunity to share the gospel and make friends. It’s a great cultural experience for our grandchildren,” she said. Her grandchildren stay with her at the same time as the international students. Since the creation of social media it’s become possible to stay in touch after the children return home.
Susan Duke and Tioga First Baptist Church Pastor Tim Hisaw said Camp USA began with evangelism. The children attend vacation bible school during their trip. Besides learning about God, they have the opportunity to experience fun activities, local cuisine and a little bit of Louisiana culture.
Chaperone Benjamin Kim said the experience is what it’s all about. This is his first year participating in Camp USA. In his senior year of university in South Korea, he chose to spend his summer break on this trip. “It’s about God first,” he said. “All of these Louisiana churches are helping us out, giving us food and shelter for our travels. The kids get to learn the cultures of America, especially the southern areas. Otherwise, they might not get a chance to experience such a unique opportunity. Natchitoches is beautiful.”