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Shocco to consider partnering with Guatemala’s Camp Edencomment (0)

January 4, 2007

By Grace Thornton

Now that he’s been to Guatemala, Buster Taylor can say with certainty the challenges at Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center in Talladega aren’t the same as those at Guatemala’s Campamento Bautista El Eden, or Camp Eden.

Shocco Springs has never experienced the onslaught of a destructive mudslide as Camp Eden did in 2005 when Hurricane Stan slammed into Guatemala (see story, page 9). It’s never been pressured by guerillas wanting to take the camp for use as a base as Camp Eden was in the early 1990s during the nation’s civil war.

Shocco may not have had those experiences, but now its leader knows how to help those that have. Taylor, Shocco’s executive director, traveled in late November 2006 to the Baptist camp, which is nestled in southern Guatemala near Lake Atitlan in the middle of several volcanoes. There Taylor and two of Camp Eden’s leaders discussed needs and the possibility of a partnership between Shocco and Camp Eden in conjunction with the Alabama Baptist State Convention’s partnership with Guatemala from 2006 to 2008.

"In the initial stages, we thought we might play more of a consulting role, but now I think that more might be needed," Taylor said.

According to Luis Escobar, Camp Eden’s administrator, the camp has three main needs:

- the completion of a concrete-block wall around its perimeter to guard against the threat of mudslides and trespassers,

- the construction of basketball courts and

- the construction of a replacement metal-roof structure and new ceiling in the dining hall.

Diego Tzina Reanda, camp president and pastor of the local Iglesia Evangelica Bautista El Buen Pastor (The Good Shepherd Evangelical Baptist Church), said he believes Alabama Baptists were drawn to Guatemala for such a time as this, when the needs are great.

Reanda views the possibility of a partnership like the Macedonian man’s request to Paul in Acts: "Come and help us."

"There are some things you can do that we cannot, and there are some things we can do that are more difficult for you," Reanda said. "We want to work alongside Alabama Baptists to accomplish things for Jesus Christ."

Taylor said if Shocco takes on the partnership, then the camp’s main role might be to assist in mobilizing the help and making Alabama Baptist churches aware of the needs, though the camp may choose to take on specific projects as well.

For instance, Shocco is considering for the first time this year sending its college-age summer staffers to Guatemala to work at Camp Eden for a week after Shocco’s sessions have ended. Taylor said if this works out, then Shocco may use part of its campers’ offerings from the summer to make this possible.

Taylor said in addition to considering how to meet the needs already mentioned, he and others will also share ideas that might fit Camp Eden’s vision.

For instance, the back side of Camp Eden’s property is filled with trees that would be perfect for a low-ropes course like the one Shocco uses to teach trust and teamwork, Taylor said.

"A lot of the lessons you teach depends on your culture. The person in charge of the course could take the activities and apply them to what your cultural and spiritual needs are," he said.

According to Taylor, if the partnership is approved, then it is possible that Shocco may offer to help build this type course at Camp Eden as it did at Venezuela’s Camp Carabobo. Shocco’s board of directors will vote on the partnership this month.

Reanda expressed gratitude for the possibility of working with Alabama Baptists.

"Everything you see here is our best effort. But we have other things that God has put in our hearts to do, too, and we believe God has brought you here for a reason."

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