I didn’t know where God was leading me when a friend asked if I could volunteer with her at a camp for children with special needs near Chattanooga. I am a pediatric occupational therapist and have a passion for this group of children, so it seemed fitting that I should go! It was a great experience for both of us, and we decided to bring that experience to our region.
Almost a year has passed since then, and looking back on it, I realize God has taught me so much about my faith through this experience. A year ago, we were going through a sermon series called The Ultimate Journey at GFC. The central teaching is to allow ourselves to be changed by Christ and used by Christ. God was and still is leading me into places and opportunities where it is inconvenient for me, difficult for me, and may not make any sense to me… but all the while, I am being changed and being used for Him. One of those opportunities was developing Camp Cliffview and seeing it come to fruition.
Camp Cliffview was born out of a desire to engage children with special needs in an outdoor setting so they could truly experience all aspects of nature. The purpose of the camp is for campers to encourage one another, build their confidence, overcome personal challenges, and learn that it is okay to have dreams of their own. Many visits were made to local camps, many phone calls and meetings took place, and countless hours were spent sitting at the computer to draw up forms and write letters… and Camp Cliffview was born. Summit Leadership Foundation came alongside of us to help us direct our path; Appalachian Christian Camp agreed to accommodate us; local therapists and OT and PT schools were willing to help. The support of the community was a huge blessing!
During the initial planning phase, I prayed over Colossians 1:16: "For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him." My personal reason behind the camp, although the camp itself is not faith-based, is that not only is God seen in nature but God created all things in nature, and God created each and every special human being in order to glorify Him. All children, with and without disabilities, should have the opportunity to experience and enjoy nature and the outdoor environment because we were all created to enjoy God's creations, while glorifying Him.
I have seen God’s faithfulness in each step we took on this journey. Much prayer and encouragement came from our friends and family; financial help was given from local businesses. In fact, God was so faithful that we were able to raise enough money that both campers and volunteers were able to pay nothing to be able to participate!
Anxious thoughts filled my head as the date approached and final preparations and planning were still in progress. But His faithfulness was steadfast despite all the lingering questions in my head, and Camp Cliffview took place on August 2, 2014. We ended up with an appropriate number of campers and volunteers, and the staff at ACC were supportive in our endeavor. It turned out to be a beautiful day as children enjoyed God’s creations. Everything flowed as smoothly as we could have imagined. By the grace of God, there were no surprises that we were not able to handle with the help of everyone involved and prayer lifted up. We surely felt the hand of God at work that day!
Through it all, I realized God does not want me to take the easy road. Instead He calls me to jump out of my comfort zone to rally those who may not be able to do so themselves. It feels amazing to be used by Christ in this way, and through it, I was changed by Him, as well. We are excited about what God has in store for us as therapists and for our families at next year’s Camp Cliffview!
If you're interested in learning how to take additional steps on your own Ultimate Journey with God and how to overcome emotional obstacles that may be hindering you, check out our upcoming Grace Equip Saturday, an interactive, in-depth learning experience that will lay the groundwork for you in moving forward on the Ultimate Journey.
Posted on Mon, September 1, 2014
by Helen Berry