Thailand's Camp Joy Makes Lasting Impact

by Kittipong Kammongkol

Kittipong, center, between Ruthlilli and (Camp Joy director) Joel "Uncle J" Ibanes.Editors note: AMG International operates camping ministries (not unlike the American idea of "summer camp" as an outreach and discipleship arm of their national ministries in several countries. Thailand's Camp Joy was the first AMG camp and remains a model for those in other countries.

My name is Kittipong Kammongkol, 26 years old, from Tam. Nampai, Amp. Maejharim, Nan, Thailand. I was about four years old when I started attending the Grace Kindergarten in Maejharim. Even during those years in kindergarten, I heard wonderful things about Camp Joy. Every time my older brother prepared to attend activities at the camp, I always begged to go with him. I even cried, but my mother told me that I was still too little.

I was in Grade 4 when I first attended an activity at Camp Joy, held then at the Boy Scout Campsite in Amp. Muang, Nan. I was so excited and had a lot of fun. From that time on I always looked forward to the camping season. Looking back, I see that the Camp Joy programs have helped shape who I am now.

During my primary school years, I had a lot of fun attending camp. I made a lot of friends. I was exposed to many things that were totally new and eye-opening for a child like me from a very remote area of Nampai. Those exposures made me more active as a child. I remember Ach. Narongdaet Noka and Kasemsuk, who is now with the Lord, who were my camp counselors. I felt accepted, loved, and important. The main thing we were taught at camp was that the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross on behalf of sinners, and that those who receive him will not perish but have everlasting life. It was interesting, but it never really meant anything serious to me.

To be able to attend high school, I had no choice but to go and stay at the AMG Youth Hostel where Ach. Pradith Chaosan was the house parent. One day, after attending another Camp Joy activity, Ach. Pradith talked to me about my own salvation. That time, I finally came to understand what my counselors had been telling me at camp. I prayed to trust and to receive Jesus into my heart as my Savior.

After three years in the hostel, I went to stay with Uncle J. (Joel Ibaes), the coordinator/director of Camp Joy Ministries. I lived with him for five years as I worked on my PWC and PWS. Every year, I attended at least one camping activity. During one of those activities, Matthew 6:33: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all of these things shall be added unto you." made sense to me. I began to understand why quiet time, testimony time, prayer time, church attendance, and Bible reading was emphasized at the AMG Youth Hostel. I began to see the wide horizon ahead of me. I realized that I needed to start some place.

Uncle J. explained baptism to me many times. That is where I started. I surrendered my life to God and followed the Lord in baptism in the Nan River that runs along the edge of Camp Joy. I began to listen to God's instructions through His Word and through His workers. God gave me the desire to study to be a teacher, and I went to the Teacher's College. During my college years, I still attended Camp Joy activities, where I received more encouragement and was challenged to keep on trusting and following God.

I am now a teacher in the Primary Department of the AMG By Grace School here in Maejharim. Camp Joy activities are still exciting to me. It is now my desire to see my students attend Camp Joy so that they, too, will experience what I experienced-the fun, the discipline, the challenges to life, etc.. I also hope they will be able to have special camping activities for young professionals like me. To me, Camp Joy is a guidepost to the path leading one's life in the right direction.

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