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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Tales from Camp Joshua, Part Three

[This is the third installment of our Camp Joshua 2013 series. Click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.]

Dr. Mistrot's presentation
Saturday night, we welcomed Dr. Jacques Mistrot, a retired surgeon, to speak about stem cell research. While many of us hear about stem cell research in the news, most people don't know much about it, so his talk was one of our favorites. Dr. Mistrot, who has devoted much of his retirement to speaking on bioethics, told us how stem cells can be broken into two main categories, adult and embryonic. Adult stem cells are taken from sources such as bone marrow or umbilical cord blood, and they have been used to treat over 70 diseases to date. Embryonic stem cells, on the other hand, are taken from living embryos, destroying those lives in the process. Not only does it take many thousands of embryos to conduct research, but no illnesses have been successfully treated using embryonic stem cells. This, he explained, is why adult stem cell research is better from both a scientific and ethical standpoint, because it has effectively treated all kinds of diseases without destroying embryonic human lives. 

The students enjoying a bit of free time together.
Saturday was such a busy day that everyone was ready for a relaxing evening. The teens grabbed their blankets and pillows, threw on comfortable clothes, and settled down for a movie night complete with popcorn and candy. We watched October Baby, a powerful pro-life film following the journey of Hannah, a young woman who learns she was born after a failed abortion. Because Hannah hadn't even known she was adopted, she struggles to reconcile the life she thought she knew with the one she now has. It's a great movie...even when, despite your best efforts, your DVD player and projector inexplicably show it in black and white with Spanish subtitles! 

The next morning we were up bright and early for the optional church services and breakfast. Afterwards, Sarah Zagorski (Louisiana Right to Life) motivated everyone with her "Pro-Life Activism" presentation. Since the earlier sessions focused on learning the facts and rhetorical tools for effective pro-life persuasion, this one was all about actively using those skills. Our goal is that these students will return to their families, schools, churches, and communities and share what they have learned! 

The next few hours were occupied with lunch, evaluations, and packing. We couldn't believe how quickly the time had gone! It wasn't quite time to go home yet, though. In the afternoon, Dr. Melinda Snyder spoke about euthanasia and how it is a growing problem in the United States. For some vulnerable elderly or disabled adults, basic food and water is often considered extraordinary care, meaning they will die slow, painful deaths by starvation. She pointed out that even though it's a lot easier to defend the rights of a cute little baby, we'll all be elderly someday and in need of just as much love, care, and protection. The teens seemed interested in what she had to say; like stem cell research, the facts about euthanasia and end of life issues aren't as well known or understood. 

Camp Joshua NC officially ended with a small closing ceremony. We told the students how impressed we had all been with their attention, respect, and attitude, and also how glad we were that they had come! We reminded them of their responsibility to use what they had learned, to talk to their friends and family, and to share the pro-life message in whatever way they could. We also told them that the relationships they had formed while at Camp Joshua are absolutely priceless, and to rely on each other in times of discouragement. Finally, we called each student up and gave him or her a certificate of completion. We are so proud of them!

After our closing ceremony

Our first experience with Camp Joshua was so wonderful! We are grateful to all the people who helped make it happen, especially the adult volunteers and, most of all, the teens who sacrificed a weekend of their summer to come. They were an ideal group to work with, and we can't wait to do this again next year!

If you or someone you know might be interested in Camp Joshua, please, tell them about it! We can always use volunteers to help promote our camp, not to mention teens to attend! We will be posting updates as to our progress on our website, our camp website, Facebook, Twitter (@ncrtl), Pinterest, and this blog. Check back often for more details about next year's camp! 

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