Mission trips are only for youth and adults, or so I’ve been told. That said, I took the challenge and have been praying for a space and place where little people WITH their big people could stay and serve in developmentally appropriate ways, not too far away, overnight, and inexpensive so the whole family could attend.
We succeeded last July.
This Family Mission Trip was an important part of our Soul Food Summer. As one youth mission team from Key West was giving testimony and just returning, we were honored with a prayerful send-off during a shared 11am worship service. With a sandwich lunch immediately following, we loaded up and headed out to Buckhead, Georgia.
North Georgia has a hidden gem in Camp Collinswood. It’s a property on Lake Oconee built out specifically for persons with mobility challenges. It’s flat, located off a major interstate highway, with family-friendly cabins. It’s perfect for a 24-hour family mission trip.
We partnered with another church which does handy-work regularly at the camp. They brought the amazing cook and everyone brought a bunch of power tools with work plans throughout the camp.
We were tasked with building an ADA compliant Gaga Ball pit with a sun-protective sail and replacing termite-eaten wooden benches around the lakeside fire pit. We were also tasked with trimming bushes, magic-erasering light switches and doors at the cabins, cleaning lakeside restrooms and life jacket storage areas, landscape clean up, and pressure washing the lakeside walkways and gazebo.
Our families did it all. The adults included the children in every task.
The camp is used by multiple special-needs clubs and groups during the week and over the weekends in the summer, so our coming Sunday after church into Monday afternoon fit their schedule and ours. We brought lawn debris bags, lots of kid-sized work gloves, magic erasers, and two eager 10-year old boys made good use of cabin brooms on cobweb duty.
Before each meal we heard a short message based on Psalm 34:3, “Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together,” by a dad at dinner, a mom at breakfast, and a student at lunch. With $400 support from our missions committee, we were able to charge families $30 per person with a $100 family max to cover t-shirts, supplies, food, and lodging. Each cabin can house 25 individuals with 5 per family in each ‘room’ off the main gathering room which includes a kitchenette.
The youngest was 5 years old and the oldest was 84.
After all the work was done and just an hour or so before departure we spent some time in the lake for some holy play and lots of laughter. The camp has paddle boards, kayaks, canoes, and plenty of life jackets.
We’ve already scheduled the family mission trip for next year. Lots of projects can still be completed by littles and bigs together at Camp Collinswood. We can’t wait!
“Christ wants not nibblers of the possible, but grabbers of the impossible.” – C. T. Studd