Each year, the Lighthouse Christian Camp provides weeks of summer camp to disadvantaged and needy children. Through the camp, children, who never otherwise would have the opportunity, get to experience the beauty of God's creation in a new and meaningful way, free of charge.
"Our mission and ministry at the Lighthouse Christian Camp is to find and seek out children that are poor and needy, abandoned, abused," said Camp Director Fran Tyson. "We cover about fifteen counties working with churches, school counselors and coordinators in those areas, who help us identify those children. We then bring them to camp for a week during the summer for free. The camp is completely supported by people who just donate and sponsor these children," she said.
In December, those same children are brought back to the camp by buses, vans, or cars for a Christmas party where they hear the biblical truth and meaning of Christmas, eat lunch, drink hot cocoa, and sing Christmas carols. "This Saturday, December 1 and next Saturday, December 8 we'll have our Christmas parties for the children that have come to camp at Lighthouse Christian Camp," said Tyson. "The children are picked up at different locations in the middle Tennessee area. We have drivers from different churches and buses that pick them up and bring them to camp," she said.
Additionally, children experience the joy of giving to others when they are given "Lighthouse Christmas Money" and are allowed to purchase wonderful gifts for their families and themselves. These children leave with enormous bags full of gifts and hearts full of the love they've received from hundreds of volunteers and staff. For many, this is the only Christmas they will have or know. "We have a huge Christmas store set up in the gym. The children come in and we put them on a team with counselors," said Tyson. "They'll get to shop in our Christmas store in the gym with Lighthouse play money to buy gifts for their families. They get to hear the Christmas story. We feed them lunch at the dining hall. They'll get hot chocolate and spend the day. The first Saturday of December is the girl's party and the second Saturday in December is the boy's party. But the only children who are eligible to come to the parties are those children who have already been to our camps. Its only for the children who have been to missions camp or discipleship camp and who have been invited back to shop," said Tyson.
The public may support the effort by donating gifts to ensure that there are plenty of presents to go around for all the kids who come to the Christmas party. "We're looking for gifts where a child can come in and buy (with Lighthouse play money) a gift for their baby brother, baby sister, a sibling, a mom or dad, or a grandmother or grandfather," said Tyson. "We're looking for gifts like gloves, scarves, hats, shirts, watches, toys, or anything that would benefit us to provide for these kids. They (public) can bring gifts to the Lighthouse Camp at the gym and drop them off there. We also have a drop off point at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in downtown Smithville," she said.
Lighthouse Christian Camp also is getting some valuable assistance in preparing for the Christmas party from the Faith in Action mission team. "Faith In Action is a mission team from Wisconsin and Minnesota and they drive down every year after Thanksgiving and spend the whole week with us," said Tyson. " They help us set up our gym store. They work constantly making gift baskets. They just help us get ready for the Christmas party. I really don't know if we could do the party without this team coming in. They've brought about thirty people this year. It's just an amazing blessing to us at Lighthouse Christian Camp to have them come down and help us," she said.
If you would like to donate to or help with the Christmas party, call the camp office at (615) 597-1264 or visit www.lighthousechristiancamp.com.