Campion Academy’s international students have faced a variety of challenges with returning to school due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Students from Brazil were able to return home during the quarantine period, but now are faced with closed borders and are having difficulties returning to the U.S. Students from China were not able to return home at all due to the travel restrictions that began in February.
Giovanna Balgamon, along with nine other students from Brazil, has started the school year online. She said, “Starting school online was discouraging. I think all of us hoped that things would be back to normal by now.”
Eager to return to Campion in-person, the Brazilian students have had to get creative in finding a way to fly into the U.S. Carol Silva, senior, along with Duda De Oliviera, junior, were able to get to Campion Academy in early August. In order to do so, they had to take a flight from Brazil to Mexico, and stay in Mexico for 15 days. After that, they flew from Mexico to Colorado. Silva said, “Although it was tedious and frankly very tiring, I am beyond grateful to be able to spend this year growing with God and being around all my friends. I am appreciative to all the staff and the students for following the rules to keep our campus safe.”
Seven more Brazilians are going through the same process as Carol and Duda. They arrived in Mexico on August 24th, and plan to be at Campion by the 9th of September. The remaining two students from Brazil will continue with online classes until the borders open.
Chinese students Gregory Lang and his brother Jarrod started at Campion last year and are now entering 10th grade. Jarrod Lang said, “I first heard about COVID-19 in February when the outbreak began in China. My family was then already prepared for us to stay here and sent over 400 hundred masks immediately. In March, the outbreak hit the U.S., my brother and I immediately began donating and handing out masks to Campions staff.”
Both Gregory and Jarrod Lang stayed with Campion’s Alumni President Codi Jahn and her family for the summer. Jarrod Lang said, “They are very good people and have strong relationships with God. I was never sad or depressed during this time. My brother and I both love the U.S. and are very grateful to be here. During the summer we were able to get more in touch with God, and learn about his grace. Codi and Caleb Jahn took very good care of us and my family is extremely thankful!”
Although new international students were not able to enroll due to visa restrictions, Campion Academy still has 17 international students coming from Brazil, China, The Democratic Republic of Congo, and Japan.
Campion Academy welcomes new Acquainting Agriculture class instructor Doug Hoos, who will work alongside Program Director Russell Branham. Hoos’ gardening roots go back to 1973 when he attended a summer-long gardening course in Loma Linda, California. Now retired from a land surveying company, he likes to garden and relax in his free time.
“I was looking to get involved with more extensive gardening, but after my wife retired, we kind of discontinued that and had other plans for this summer. But COVID-19 came along,” Hoos explained. “So, I was praying for some place to do some gardening and saw the Campion newsletter come out saying they were re-starting the program at Campion. The timing seemed to be right.”
Hoos shared his goals for this program: “[I’d like] students to learn simple, very low cost methods they can take home or anywhere in the world to use to garden.”
Gregory Lang, sophomore, said, “During Agriculture class so far, I learned how to plant vegetables and how soil could change the development of the plants. It is a fun class. Mr. Hoos is a kind man, and he has the passion to make this class a good learning experience.” Acquainting Agriculture is open first and second semester to students in all grade levels.
Produce is available for sale to the community on a limited basis. Currently, the program offers zephyr squash, green beans, emerald okra, crimson okra and lots of basil. Carrots, beets, brussels sprouts and radishes are not quite ready yet. The Agriculture class will be growing mostly root type vegetables through the winter as well.
While varsity sports have been suspended throughout Colorado due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Campion Academy has found a way for students to continue playing sports. Students have formed several different flag football, volleyball, and disc golf intramural teams that will compete against each other. Last Thursday the students enjoyed some friendly competition during the first volleyball and flag football games.
COVID-19 has caused the cancellation of several events, so intramural sports are a welcome addition. “I think it’s a great way to replace what would’ve been our soccer season,” explained Andy Obregon, senior. “Although some of us don’t usually play the sports that the intramurals offer, it’s still a great way to keep ourselves busy.”
With the new social distancing regulations, it has been harder for students to spend time together. “Probably the thing that has stuck out to me the most about intramurals so far is how it’s bringing people together and creating stronger bonds, especially with the newer students this year.” said Collin Velbis, junior. The intramurals give students more opportunities to socialize and bond with one another.
A lot of students don’t have much free time, but they enjoy playing sports to relax. Isaac Avila, junior explained, “It’s a nice breather to distract from all of our hard classes.”
Unlike the usual sports at Campion, anybody can join the intramurals. “It’s more accessible than regular sports, so everyone has an opportunity to have fun,” explained Randolph Ottschofski, Athletic Director. “We also get to play some cool sports that we don’t normally get to.” Groups of students may form their own teams that will compete against each other for a championship. Ottschofski plans to add more intramural sport options later in the fall.
Over the first weekend back on campus, Campion Academy participated in our annual Class Scramble. Although it was similar to years past, students and staff took extra precautions relating to COVID-19. Student Association (SA) officers took on the challenge of creating new games and rules to ensure that everyone had fun safely.
For the second year in a row, the senior class of 2021 kept up their winning streak and came out on top. Milka Mendoza, senior, stated, “I was super glad we were even able to still do it, and thankful for the SA officers and the staff who set everything up. It felt so good to win for a second time in a row! I’m super excited to see how our class can continue to make memories despite everything else going on. We did get a little scared of losing, but we pulled it off! It all worked out because we came together as a class.” The other classes didn’t make it easy for the seniors to win; it was a tight race between the seniors and the sophomores, who came in second.
The event was held outside, everyone wore masks, and the new games allowed for social distancing. Some students embraced safety by decorating their masks and finding creative ways to take pictures. Kylie Wehling, SA Spiritual Vice President, said, “Being on SA this year, we had the challenge of thinking of new ways to stay safe with social distancing while still being able to have fun with our classes. Even though a lot of the normal Class Scramble games had to change, such as man-overboard and men-in-a-boat, I think everyone was still able to have tons of fun and enjoy bonding time with their classes.”
In years prior, Class Scramble has been followed up on Sunday with SA Picnic: a series of class competitions put on by the SA officers. This year, unfortunately, the low air quality from local mountain fires put that on hold. Campion is still planning on having this event on a day where there is less smoke and we can ensure the safety of everyone on our campus.
Campion Church welcomed back the student body for the first Sabbath of the school year after an absence of nearly five months. “I love our church community, but our full community includes Campion Students,” commented Pastor Micheal Goetz. “It’s only been half of us for the last four or five months. It felt whole again. And you could tell the energy and enthusiasm was different.”
The church is now hosting two services to accommodate both students and community members. To keep doors open, the church can only hold 50% of its normal capacity in order to effectively maintain social distancing guidelines. “The two services are fun because there are less people in each; I get to look into more eyes when there are less people each service,” Pastor Goetz continued. “But it’s sad at times when I’m in a service and I wish that those in second [service] could hear the singing in first, or that the students in first could meet and connect with some of the great people in second. I want everyone to experience it all.”
Students attended the first service and were spaced apart so that they nearly filled the main sanctuary. “Church was definitely different because of Coronavirus, but it was enjoyable,” said Haley Beckermeyer, sophomore. “Being able to use our Bibles interactively and play games at Sabbath School was also really fun!”
After only having church online and outdoor vespers during the quarantine, the church officially invited members back to the building the last weekend of May. Last Sabbath was also the first time the church was able to use the new addition for the children’s Sabbath School classes.
On the first Sabbath of every new school year, Campion holds a special campus dedication, and this year it was spread out over the two services. Students were involved with music and children’s story, new faculty members were introduced, and the Rocky Mountain Conference Vice President of Education Lonnie Hetterle led a prayer over the students and staff.
Erin Johnson, a teacher at Campion, said, “I really enjoyed the service because it reminded us why we are here. While we are doing God’s work, we need a lot of prayer.”
Campion Academy welcomed 142 students back to campus for the new school year on Sunday, August 9. Students and staff are wearing masks and social distancing both during the in-person classes and throughout campus. “I’m glad to be back on campus and see all of my friends again,” commented Sami Hodges, senior. “I’m thankful that the Campion Academy staff has made it possible for us to have in-person classes because having to do school online wasn’t ideal.”
Besides wearing masks and social distancing, everyday activities look a bit differently this school year. First of all, registration and move-in were by appointment and spread out over three days to avoid large groups together. All chapels and group gatherings are being held outside on center campus, and desks are spaced apart in classrooms. Even the cafeteria has spaced out their tables six-feet apart and is only accommodating less than 50 people at a time.
Despite all the regulations, students are feeling positive about returning. Haley Enochs, senior, explained, “Sure, it’s uncomfortable to wear a mask and not be right next to other people, but in the end it is worth it to get that face-to-face communication with my teachers and friends.”
Students were officially welcomed into the new school year at the not-so-traditional “Handshake” event. The Student Association (SA) officers provided cut-out paper hands on popsicle sticks for staff and students to use to “high-five” each other in the line that stretched out to circle the entire green on center campus. Classes still competed against each other in creative games that allowed for social distancing while building camaraderie.
During worship, Kylie Wehling, SA Spiritual Vice-President introduced the theme for the year: Rise. The theme was inspired by the verse Micah 7:8, “Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light” (NIV).
“Our SA team chose this theme because we want students to go to God to be able to rise above the circumstances we have this year,” said Tiffany Dien, senior.
Jill Harlow, Communication Director
I’ve been doing literature evangelism for over half of my life. Each day, I see first hand the impact that I’ve made by “go”ing as Jesus asked us to “Go” in the Great Commission at the end of the gospels of Matthew and Mark. In Luke 10:1, we read that Jesus sent 70 people to visit the cities and villages before Jesus went to visit them. Jesus will be visiting our cities once again. Just like in his day, we need the “70” to “GO” to the cities before Jesus comes. As you contemplate what job you’ll have at Campion this year, contemplate making this year a year of service for the salvation of others. Take a look at what others have said when asked, “What has LE meant for you?”.
Raquel - “LE was my favorite part of Campion last year, and is a fun way to spread the Word of God.”
Adrianna - “LE has shown me that the world is bigger than myself. Before I started canvassing, I was very upset with God about past events in my life. Canvassing has shown me that if it wasn’t for those experiences, God would not have been able to use me for his ministry.”
Alexis -” LE has become another family to me. Everyone who does LE, and has ever done LE, is part of a huge family that is pulling me closer to Christ.”
Pastor Joe - “Literature Evangelism has been in my life for 44 years. The experiences I had have changed my life.”
Robyn - “LE means an opportunity to be God's tool!”
Richard - “I value it, because you spread the word of God. I think it’s super cool and kinda rare. I like praying with people, and leaving seeds of salvation.”
Naomi - “There’s been something about spending my day trying to sell people on the concept of Jesus, that’s really made me take it all in for myself. Nothing’s driven home the point of Christianity for me more than literature evangelism has. Jesus has a way of reaching people when they’re committed to reaching others.”
It’s one thing to look back and see how God has blessed others who have done LE in the past. It’s another to consider how He will bless it during this Covid-19 pandemic. Will God continue to bless this ministry?
On August 4, I received a call from Adrianna, who has been canvassing independently this summer. She met a lady who recognized the Steps to Christ Adrianna was offering. The lady had purchased it a few years ago. This year, she gave Adrianna $100 for 10 more copies, so she could share them with her friends.
A few weeks before that, I received a call from another independent LE named Clayton. Clayton met a manwho had been struggling over things in his church that he said were, “Anti-God”. After a few minutes of chatting with Clayton, the man kept a book about how to study the Bible and scheduled a time to study the Bible with Clayton. After their first Bible study, the man told Clayton that he’s “never learned this stuff before“.
I’d like to repeat the old quote, “We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past.” God has led LE in the past, and he continues to lead LE today. Is he leading you to do LE this school year? I challenge you to pray about it.
Literature Evangelism Director, Rocky Mountain Conference