As a way of celebrating God’s faithfulness through 75 years of ministry, we are considering various principles that we hold to as we think about the next 75 years. Faithfulness to the true gospel was the first principle and an unwavering commitment to discipleship was the second. In this blog, Beth Wiegand, our Camp Promise director, shares about our third principle – an intentional commitment to those with special needs.
Big Sky Bible Camp’s special needs program, “Camp Promise,” began in 1990 by Gaetan “Duffy” McDuff and his wife. He was intent on finding a camp that would partner with him to provide a camping experience for his daughter and others in the special needs community. For the next 30 or so years, the ministry of Camp Promise has expanded to serving over 100 campers a summer and countless others through the Promise Clubs and our online Bible studies.
Jesus was good at focusing in on the individual. Often, he would have crowds of people surrounding him, listening to his words and following his every step. Then he would see a person in need: a blindman begging outside the temple, a woman suffering from an illness, or a leper who was quarantined outside the city walls. He would focus his attention and give value and love to those others in society looked away from.
The special needs ministry here at Big Sky Bible Camp endeavors to do the same, to intentionally come alongside individuals and families with special needs in order to show love and value to all people as we share the gospel of Christ. During the year we intentionally schedule times for respite care so families and caregivers can enjoy a break while their loved one is supported and engaged in activities with others. In our Promise Club program, we intentionally give our friends opportunities to encourage others in the community so that they are using their gifts in service to God.
Camp Promise is literally bursting at its seams! Parents and caregivers are looking for opportunities that will engage their children with special needs. Our 2022 overnight camps are already filled with a waiting list. Lord willing, when our new facility is built (see www.bigskypromisekept.org for more info on our desire to grow Camp Promise), we will have the opportunity to have Camp Promise throughout the entire summer reaching a potential of 250 or more campers per year. We will be able to host retreats for families, siblings and our friends with special needs throughout the year. And we will continue to disciple of our friends through Promise Clubs and our online Bible studies.
In all this we never want to lose the ability to focus on the individual; to listen, to support, to spur them on to love and good deeds and salvation in Christ Jesus.