Ciao from the Italy English Camp team! We recently returned from two weeks serving and being blessed by the sweetest group of kids at Centro Evangelico Isola, a camp run by Joe Hunziker and his family. The camp is located in a cute little town called Isola near Gran Sasso d’Italia, the highest mountain in the Apennines. It’s such a beautiful place, both because of the ever-present reminder of God’s creation always in the background and the wonderful people we had to opportunity to interact with and serve alongside.
A quick background on the area: Much of Italy is very Roman Catholic, and where we were is no exception. It’s more cultural in most cases, something that most people subscribe to because everyone does it – kind of how Christianity is in the deep South in the United States. Many Italians view Christianity as a sort of cult due to this cultural influence, so that makes evangelizing to them a little more difficult. Though many camps offered at Isola are Bible camps, they cannot blatantly teach Christianity as they could in the States for this reason. The English camp we served in is offered only for unchurched kids to attend, so it was even more different from the norm. Our main focus was to love on the kids and show Christ in how we lived – definitely a very different kind of mission trip than most of us were expecting.
Even more than that, we found how dedicated the camp is to building a strong connection with the surrounding community, whether that means inviting families for fellowship and meals or offering locals access to their soccer field. This connection is how they seek to spread Christ’s love to everyone around them, not just the kids. And of course, everyone at the camp seeks to serve and love on these kids as much as possible, to connect with them and with their families and to be that Christlike influence in their lives. It was such an honor for all of us to be able to contribute to this goal as the camp seeks to show Christ’s love to those who otherwise may not see Him.
And of course, we had lots of fun with the kids as well! We played tug-o-war and had sack races, held a carnival complete with face painting and games, and even hiked on the mountain with them!
Overall, it was such a joy to have fun with and show love to these kids – not just as “the Cedarville girls,” but as members of the wonderful camp community Centro Evangelico Isola has created. It’s amazing how so many people from different countries and cultures and walks of life can come together with such open hearts to further the Gospel. Not only is that a testament to the dedication of the camp staff, but it just goes to show you how God can use literally anyone – and anything – to show Himself in all parts of the world. This was such a wonderful opportunity that God blessed us with, and I think I speak for all four of us when I say that we wouldn’t trade the experience for anything! God is definitely at work, even in places like small town Italy that we don’t always think of as starving for Christ. They really are, and we’re so thankful for ministries such as Joe’s that are dedicated to satiating that need, as well as hearts like his that are so burdened to reach these people with the Gospel.