Facing the Giants

Photo courtesy of Emmanuel Lutheran School Emmanuel Lutheran School fifth- and sixth-graders Ayden Johnson (left), 10, of Lincoln Park; former student Colin Heil, 10, of Brownstown Township; and Dearborn residents Patrick Popyk, 10, Chloe Clabuesch, 10, and Kimberly Fodor, 11, joke around in the Camp Rotary dining hall. They spent Feb. 2 to 6 at the Boy Scout Camp in Clare for a retreat and winter outdoor adventure.

Photo courtesy of Emmanuel Lutheran School
Emmanuel Lutheran School fifth- and sixth-graders Ayden Johnson (left), 10, of Lincoln Park; former student Colin Heil, 10, of Brownstown Township; and Dearborn residents Patrick Popyk, 10, Chloe Clabuesch, 10, and Kimberly Fodor, 11, joke around in the Camp Rotary dining hall. They spent Feb. 2 to 6 at the Boy Scout Camp in Clare for a retreat and winter outdoor adventure

Students find confidence during weeklong retreat at Camp Rotary

By SUE SUCHYTA
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – Whether trying winter sports, or learning to overcome personal challenges, fifth- and sixth-graders from four local Lutheran schools enjoyed a weeklong retreat Feb. 2 to 6 at Clare’s Camp Rotary.

Camp Rotary, a Boy Scouts of America Michigan Crossroads Council camp, hosted 105 fifth- and sixth-graders and adult chaperones from Emmanuel and Guardian Lutheran schools in Dearborn, St. Michael’s Lutheran School in Wayne, and Concordia Lutheran School in Redford Township.

The retreat theme, “Facing the Giants,” was inspired by the 2006 movie about an underdog football team. Participants had the option to learn how to overcome their fears of challenging outdoor sports, like rappelling and cross-country skiing, and to learn techniques to conquer personal fears that might prevent them from reaching their potential.

Emmanuel Lutheran principal Paul Baerwolf of Dearborn, said he hopes his students enjoyed the new experiences and made new friends during their week at Camp Rotary.

“First of all, (I hope) they understand about nature and how God created it and to learn some of those winter skill sets they never probably ever have a chance to do at home,” he said.

He said it was also a chance for students from their relatively small student body to meet students from other local Lutheran schools.

“We get to meet up with other kids and share some of their same joys and sorrows that they have,” Baerwolf said.

He hopes students return to the classroom with skills they need to use their faith to overcome personal obstacles or “giants.”

“As they come back to their classrooms, they will be able to understand what we talked about up there,” Baerwolf said, “namely that God helps us in all situations, and has given us the skills to cope with those things that may happen in the classroom.”

He said they focused on forgiveness, praying for each other, and using the examples shown in the movie that mirrored the retreat’s theme.

Baerwolf said he had fun watching the students try cross-country skiing.

“It is always neat to see their feet all of a sudden become seven feet long,” Baerwolf said. “And it is snowy and they have to awkwardly more across the snow, but it always turns out to be one of the most popular events that is there.”

As a sixth-grader, Kimberly Fodor, 11, of Dearborn, discovered last year as a fifth-grader that friendships make the Camp Rotary experience worthwhile.

“I get to make new friends, I see some old friends, and I see some of my other friends from other schools from ‘Bible Quiz Time,’” Fodor said.

“Bible Quiz Time” is a locally produced cable TV game show trivia competition, in which schools compete against each other based on their knowledge of the Bible.

Throughout the week, “facing your giants” became a springboard for discussions about overcoming fears through faith and changing one’s perspective.

While Chloe Clabuesch, 10, of Dearborn and Ayden Johnson, 10, of Lincoln Park, decided they were not ready for rappelling this year at Camp Rotary, Fodor and Patrick Popyk, 10, were both up for the challenge.

“I really liked it,” Fodor said. “I just jumped off it with my friends.”

Popyk, who had not rappelled before, said jumping off the platform is the hardest part of the challenge, because of the fear one associates with falling.

He said he had fun – and less anxiety – with the archery, BB gun training and cross-country skiing.

Johnson said even though he fell during cross-country skiing, he persevered, and was glad that he tried something new.

“I fell twice, and I couldn’t get up either time,” Johnson said. “I had to take the skis off, get back up, and put them back on. At the end, we kind of walked.”

He said he had fun during the retreat, and was surprised to discover he has a talent for archery.

“I shot the bulls-eye like three times, and it bounced off,” he said. “I was not happy.”

Clabuesch said she is happy that the Camp Rotary experience let her make new friends

Johnson said it was fun being with a larger group of peers, and he liked having a fresh start making new friends. He said he made more friends at Camp Rotary than there are students at Emmanuel Lutheran School.

Baerwolf said he continues to take students to Camp Rotary annually because of the experience it provides for his students.

“Being stuck in the city, often they don’t have the opportunity to try those outdoor things, especially during the wintertime,” Baerwolf said. “They are pretty active in spring and summer around here because there is lots to do outside, but in the winter, we just tend to stay inside. So that has always been a joy for them to experience those outside things.”

He said the retreat also teaches them a sense of responsibility, as they learn to keep their cold weather gear together on their own, to clean up after meals in the dining hall, and to prepare evening devotions with their peers.

He said for many students, the retreat is the first time they are away from home for a week and meet many new people.

“The downtime allows them to be with new people, to talk about whatever they wish,” Baerwolf said. “It is like having 10 or 15 strangers over to your house.”