Project Serve 2021 | Ft. Belknap, Montana


Grace Carey Photography

July 19, 2021

Thursday 07.15.21

This past week was filled with so many ups and downs. From tears running after the bus leaving with the campers Friday morning, to dancing and laughing at 10pm to Uptown Funk. Ft. Belknap’s Camp Beaver Creek is an unforgettable week for everyone present. Meeting new boys and girls who become your best friends literally within hours of meeting. An escape from the harsh reality for each special camper here at the reservation.

I’m currently writing this blog post on a piece of paper on the porch of one of the cabins here at camp. Herewith all the boys and girls laughing, braiding hair, making bracelets, and the young girl campers painting the boy counselor’s nails. In denial that we’re about to leave tomorrow and some today (including one of my sweet girls). The amount of love overflowing from my heart is absolutely abundant.

This week has shown me so much. The fact that the reservations in Montana have such high rates of indigenous women going missing and being put into the sex trade is overwhelmingly devastating and awful. At camp on Tuesday, we had a couple of self-defense-trained women come in and teach the campers (and counselors) self-defense and ways to escape from the predators, it’s that bad here. Even worse, it’s not only the women but the young girls, too. Bringing awareness to this issue is so so important. That’s why our camp shirts were red this year.

Our red shirts were not in fact the only red thing at camp, though. The one thing other than water we absolutely needed were gallons of sunscreen. Although I used a whole lot of it, I still got my annual sun poisoning, ranking second-worst from the past years in blisters and redness. And I was most definitely not the only one with peeling skin and bunches of burns from the tops of our heads to our toes, literally.

I honestly wish I had more words for this week, It was all challenging, emotional, tiring, and most of all an extremely beautiful time. I am so beyond grateful for the opportunity to serve so many amazing campers alongside so many sweet counselors and staff. But in particular my two absolutely amazing girls, Sophia & Laila. One of which rededicated her heart to Jesus. I am SO beyond proud and excited for her (there was partying going on in both Heaven and camp).

But also simply being here in Montana taking in the gorgeous view of God’s creation in the valley of mountains. It’s a view that I could simply not capture because of its overwhelming amount of beauty. Goodness gracious the sunrises and sunsets, they just hit different here. Like, thank you Jesus for allowing us to see that kind of beauty every morning and night. It will never get old. I was supposed to be in Disney World right now, but I would give that up in a heartbeat to come once again. It’s so totally worth it and it’s something that I would highly recommend to anyone.

Monday 07.19.21

Weird. That’s how I would describe being back home from Montana. Honestly being back from the 30+ hour train and bus ride, where I got sick, is very nice and makes me appreciate my bathroom, ibuprofen, and non-train water a whole lot more. But I would give all that up for another week with those campers in a heartbeat. At the end of the week on Friday even the older boys who swore they would not cry, ended up in tears, too. Watching the campers go back to their difficult home lives, things that I can’t even imagine going through is one of the most heartbreaking experiences. That’s why prayer for those children is so important at the very least. It’s so hard to hold back tears in my typical go-to coffee shop work spot because of all of that.

Campers and counselors can all agree that this past week has been life-changing for all of us. But personally, the calling I feel into missions has only grown. Being able to share my passion for photography, the gift that God has so graciously given me so all I can do is give back to the kingdom. And then the love that I also have for a future in youth ministry. I cannot wait for more weeks like this, even though I don’t think I’ll ever experience a week like this one ever again. This is my second year of having the extremely humbling opportunity of serving at Camp Beaver Creek, and I know for a fact that it won’t be the last. I cannot wait for next summer to be able to come back and serve the students on the reservation.

And for all curious, about 1000 pictures later, here’s the link for our whole week! I’ll share a few (ok now that I have uploaded a few”, it’s not just a few, oops) highlights below! Be aware, grab a tissue box before witnessing the outcome of pictures, it might get a bit emotional up in here.

These next few pictures are from Friday evening after the campers left. There was a very tiny little town only about 15ish minutes away that the staff and counselors, we all went to. And I got some absolutely breathtaking shots all thanks to God’s beautiful creation!!

My current desktop screensaver
We had the opportunity to attend a Pow Wow, and oh my goodness, it was amazing!

And that’s all for the highlights! Truly this last week was magnificent and filled with so much Jesus. If you ever have the urge or opportunity to go on a missions trip, I 100% recommend to pack up and go.

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name; make known among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted.” Isaiah 12:4, NIV

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” Romans 1:16 (which happens to be the tattoo I now have on my ankle)

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