New high schoolers ask God to bless them with success & good friends

After soaking up the sun and great fun at Jewel Resort during the Summer holiday, our GSAT kids have started high school! Having done well in their exams, the children are now enrolled at some of Jamaica’s top high schools. Cara is at Immaculate Conception, Immanuel and Israel Jamaica College and Nia-Ashley at St. Andrew High School for girls.

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From left: Nia-Ashley, Immanuel, Cara and Israel

As they embark on this new phase of life, the high achievers from prep and primary school are asking God to keep them on the ‘straight and narrow’ as they start high school.

Cara – As I embark on a new journey to high school, I would like God to help me to make Christian friends. I would like to have friends who will motivate me, who are focused and hardworking and will assist me in becoming a better Christian. I would like God to help me to be a good Christian friend as well.

Nia-Ashley – As I embark on this new stage of my life, I ask God to provide Christian friends with competent and motivated teachers  to support and guide me in the right direction. I also ask God to help me to maintain academic success and make my family and well-wishers proud.

Israel – I want God to assist me in gaining academic excellence in high school. I am believing God to give me great success in the sport of football.

Immanuel – As I go to high school, I want God to give me success in the area of football and for him to let me be the leading goal scorer on the school football Pepsi team. I also want the Lord to help me not to be ragged!

Family and Faith Magazine has been journeying with these 4 precious children over the last few months and we are pleased that in the end, with all the stress that GSAT brought, they have learned that hard work pays off, and the biblical adage holds true, you reap what you sow.

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St. Andrew High student serves the community with Jamaica Broilers help

The St. Andrew High School for girls has implemented a Community Service component to the school’s curriculum wherein each young lady is required to complete five (5) hours of voluntary community service each school year. We had the privilege of catching up with Miss Jada MacMillan, now entering grade 9 at the school, as she worked with the Jamaica Broilers Group (JBG) to prepare back-to-school packages for students in the parish of St. Catherine.

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Jada has completed ten (10) service hours since being enrolled at St. Andrew High, though she has been an active volunteer even before joining the school.

“I have participated in community service with Jamaica Broilers Group since I was a baby (I don’t remember it all but I see the pictures). I have been to Bustamante Hospital, Sunbeam Boys Home and one Heroes Day I remember we went to Curphy Home to treat the Heroes of the war and hear their stories and serve them a Best Dressed Chicken dinner and we had a barber who cut their hair. I remember there was only one female war veteran.”

In her first year at St. Andrew, she volunteered at the Sunbeam Boys Home where she helped to prepare and serve breakfast for the boys. She also participated in their annual Christmas Day treat, though for her this was not unusual, as her family has traditionally visited the home each year on this occasion. In her second year, she worked with the Jamaica Broilers team to make packages for the orphans in Haiti affected by Hurricane Matthew.

For Jada, the school, her family and JBG – where her mother Mrs. Lissa MacMillan is employed – have all contributed to shaping for her a culture of ‘giving back’.

Her most recent project with the Group saw her working alongside Miss Karla Davis, Public Relations and Training Assistant (affectionately known to Jada as Auntie Karla). Jada was charged with the responsibility of counting the items ordered to make sure that all were accounted for and ensuring that enough items were available for each package. Generally packages included a Best Dressed Chicken branded school bag, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, rulers, pencil cases, note books and other items depending on the age group of the recipients.

When asked about the experience, Jada replied, “I worked on the project with Auntie Karla. We worked two (2) days until we were finished and I didn’t care about the hours, I was happy knowing that it would make many children happy. It was very exciting and I enjoyed it. I realize that even if you don’t have money or things to give, you can give your time – it is valuable.”

The Company distributed 370 school bags filled with school supplies to residents of the communities within which their major operations are established including Spring Village, McCook’s Pen, Bodles and Freetown.

In closing, Jada remarked, “I think the programme at St. Andrew High wants us to learn to be better citizens and recognize that you have a responsibility to make somebody’s life better. I’m glad Jamaica Broilers is helping me to do this.”

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See RELATED story about St. Andrew Old Girl Kandi-Lee Crooks Smith:  Sweet as ‘Kandi’ – Overachieving Principal of the Year, Wife & Mother, Kandi-Lee Crooks-Smith Shares How God Orders Her Steps.

Single-sex versus Co-ed Schools?

The new academic year has begun and schools in Jamaica are expected to play a huge role in shaping the development of children and enabling them to achieve their full potential. However, one issue that some parents tend to reflect on is the question of single-sex versus co-educational institutions. To help us to assess the merits of both types of schools, Family and Faith Magazine caught up with veteran respected educator, Esther Tyson.

Family and Faith Magazine: What are some of the unique benefits and challenges of sending your child to a single sex institution?

Esther Tyson: Research has shown that girls do better at the sciences and math when they are in a single sex school. It appears that when girls are in co-ed schools they expect that the boys will do better at these subjects. Girls attending single sex schools generally are more competitive in that environment. I have seen where the girls attending a single sex school seem to be less prepared to engage with the opposite sex in a platonic way. Relationships with the opposite sex, unless they interact with them in other circumstances, tend to be rife with sexual interpretations and innuendos. Romantic attachments are imagined where there might be none.

In the same way, boys who do not have girls around tend to be rougher on the edges and may not understand how to treat the opposite sex. Boys in single sex schools seem to develop a more macho way of relating to each other in the absence of the girls. So there are academic as well as social advantages and disadvantages for single sex education.

Family and Faith Magazine: Although the answer to our next question was intimated in your first response, please still articulate for our readers the unique benefits and challenges of sending your child to a co-ed institution?

Esther Tyson: In a co-ed institution boys and girls learn to relate to each other as friends from early. In the 7th grade there is a healthy rivalry that takes place between all students. This changes when at about 9th grade the hormones really kick in and the awareness of the opposite sex in a sexual and romantic way change the dynamics of the relationships. Some girls become more shy and demure because they are trying not to compete with the boys but instead want to give them space to shine. On the other hand, boys may start to antagonize the girl that they like as a backhanded way of showing it.  The dynamics of the interaction certainly change in upper school. Underlying all of this though is a history that these students have with each other and an understanding of each other unlike those who are educated in a single sex school. In a co-ed school a girl can learn that she can do as well at the sciences, math and tech/voc subjects as any boy. This knowledge can boost her self-confidence. Girls and boys in co-ed school develop an understanding that they can have a platonic relationship with the opposite sex without any sexual or romantic attachments.

Family and Faith Magazine: Do you have a preference for either one, as it pertains to preparing a well-rounded actualized individual? Why or why not?

I think that both systems have their benefits. Both my daughters went to a single sex school, whilst my son went to a co-ed school. My girls had other environments apart from school where they interacted with the opposite sex, so the social impact was not felt. Academically, they were able to compete with other girls in all areas and develop their own skills without competing with boys. My son has good friendships with girls that he went to school with which are platonic, this is a healthy outcome of co-ed education.

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Operation Restoration takes Jamaica Broilers Employees to School

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JBG PR Assistant, Karla Davis spends time reviewing numbers with the students of the Joy Town Learning Centre (a part of the Operation  Restoration Christian School)

Without books, lunch, uniforms and the payment of fees, some children from vulnerable communities oftentimes ‘drop out’ of high school, thereby losing their chance to attain a good education. Without a good education, they are less likely to make a decent living as adults and as a result may engage in anti-social, destructive behaviours. However thanks to the efforts of charity organization, Operation Restoration Christian School, working in partnership with dedicated donors such as the Jamaica Broilers Group (JBG), many children in Trench Town and the surrounding communities are being given the opportunity to not only access the educational system, but also to thrive.

On a recent visit to the School, JBG employees observed first-hand the life-changing work of the organization, whose goal is to improve the education outcomes for children enrolled in school and to facilitate further education and training for those no longer in the conventional school system. The school aims to bring secondary level students who may have fallen out of the mainstream educational system up to a Grade 9 level of performance, with the hope that they will be successful at the Grade 9 Achievement Test and streamed back into regular high schools.

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Danah Cameron, JBG Group PR & Training Officer listens keenly as Operation Restoration Christian School Representatives share their vision

As part of efforts to achieve this goal, the institution works closely with parents to ensure that students have adequate support and the best chance for success. Principal, Mr. Robert Dixon, noted that parents are therefore strategically involved in various activities including team building exercises, workshops, Christmas dinners and school trips. The dedicated Principal also frequently walks the community to meet and engage with parents about their children. “We have to bridge the gap,” he reasoned.

The basic school arm has also been making important strides in providing education for younger children, specifically in the areas of literacy and mathematics. The programmes employed at this early childhood level are cutting edge and geared toward more ‘logical’ learning approaches that are designed to assist students in grasping concepts well beyond basic school. As such the programme intends to track the progress of students as they enter mainstream primary schools in order to gauge the success of their teaching methods over the long term.

An early childhood teacher at the facility, Ms. Delphena Robinson is herself a testament of the longstanding positive impact of the facility and its founders in the community. Ms. Robinson shared that many years ago she was ‘adopted’ by one of the founders of the school, Pastor Bobby Wilmot and his family when he was conducting Street Ministry in Jones Town. She recalled that although she was the only child ‘adopted’ from her large family, Pastor Wilmot with the help of other co-founders of Operation Restoration Christian School including Bishop Peter Morgan and Major Richard Cooke supported her entire family. She recalled that when the school started in the 90s, she initially assisted with the cooking and cleaning. However, as the school progressed and the need for teachers arose, she studied and received the necessary qualifications so that she could be eligible for the position. Today Ms. Robinson stands as an inspiring example in the Trench Town community.

Delighted by the successes so far and the constructive energy of the children and teachers during the visit, the Jamaica Broilers Group employees hugged, ‘high-fived’, and played with some of the children while assisting others with their reading and mathematics lessons.  “The Jamaica Broilers Group is happy to see the positive attitudes and the educational strides that students are making at Operation Restoration Christian School,” expressed Ms. Karla Davis, Public Relations Assistant at the JBG, during the visit. She pointed out that, “Each student’s success is a success for the community, and when the community succeeds, we are that much closer to transforming our nation. That goes to the core of our vision at the Jamaica Broilers Group.”

Ms. Davis added that, “Donations from the Jamaica Broilers Group ensure that the children, teachers and other members of staff are fed daily and it is our privilege to be a part of keeping literacy and numeracy available to the children of Jamaica through support of this programme.”

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Successful GSAT Students Have Great Fun at Jewel Runaway Bay!

After months and weeks of intense preparations, grade 6 students in Jamaica braced and battened down for sitting one of the most feared events among primary level children and their parents, teachers and well-wishers. No, they weren’t expecting a hurricane, they were preparing for the Grade Six Achievement Test, GSAT. For 2 days in March, 11 and 12 year-old boys and girls sat what seemed to be the great arbiter of their future success in life. Even with hundreds of hours of study, sleepless nights and Saturday classes in their arsenal, some still wept and wailed on the morning of the exams. At the end of the period of ‘testing’, many realized that they gave the exams way too much power. They realized that ultimately it is God who orders our steps and that our responsibility is to dream, be diligent, work hard and believe that ‘God will work all things for our good’. Even with that revelation it is still very important to help the children unwind and release the stress they endured for months.

With this in mind, Family and Faith Magazine in partnership with Jewel Runaway Bay treated a handful of hardworking high-performing GSAT students from prep and primary school to a few days of amazing fun! Jewel is certainly well known for its kid-friendly fun-focused activities; from the exhilarating waterparks, kayaking and ranch activities to the kids, tween and teen centres where the agenda is always fun, kids are set up to always have a great time.

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From left – GSAT Students Nia-Ashley, Israel Redwood, Cara Burrell and Immanuel Redwood

Jewel Runaway Bay Hotel Manager Patrick Bryan told Family and Faith Magazine that when kids arrive on the property they have no trouble parking their tablets. “It is amazing when children come on the resort and how many sign up for the kids centre and tweens centre. We have games like Capture The Flag and Treasure Hunt and they would run all over the property to find something and bring it back and it creates such a joy to them and especially their parents because according to the parents, when they are at home, they don’t do any physical activity.”

RELATED: An Outdoor Adventure for your Family!

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Patrick Bryan (second from right) enjoying golf with the budding high schoolers!

Speaking of the students, Mr. Bryan a GSAT father himself noted that, “They need to relax, to recover, because after GSAT they are going to high school and going into high school you also have to prepare for that so they have to have this time where they can have some peace and tranquility – do other things than studying.” And so our four GSAT students who did exceptionally well in their exams and are now gearing up to enroll in some of Jamaica’s top high schools had their chance to enjoy the lovely property.

Cara Burrell, Nia-Ashley Harris, Immanuel Redwood and Israel Redwood worked hard and thankfully had the chance to play hard at the award-winning family resort. The 4 pupils put down their pencils and picked up an unending supply of delicious pizza, golf clubs, swimming gear, games and other fun stuff as they enjoyed the fun-filled property. At the end of their time, they told Family and Faith magazine about what they enjoyed most.

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Cara Burrell: – I was excited when my mother told me I was going to spend three days with my friend, Nia at Jewel Runaway Bay. We left Kingston at about 4:30 p.m. and got there at 5:45 p.m.. A lot of people were there having a great time. When we arrived,  Auntie Mellesley, our tour guide, gave us cold rags to put on our faces. Then she showed us to our rooms. Auntie Tamar stayed with us (Nia and I) in our room and was our chaperone. Nia and I got ready for dinner and went to a restaurant next to the golf course. They had a wide range of food on the menu but I chose my all time favorite food: chicken and fries. I liked the presentation of the food. After we ate, we waited for the golf carts to take us back to the lobby. We went to our rooms, got ready for bed and watched TV for a while before going to sleep.

The next day we spent most of the day at the pool. We also went sailing and saw a huge stingray. After that we had dinner at the Jade Samurai, a Japanese restaurant. The chef chopped up the food very fast. The food was delicious! After dinner, we went back to our rooms, got ready for bed, watched TV for a little while and then it was lights out as Auntie Shelly had instructed!

On the last day of our trip, we went to the recording studio and Nia and I recorded a song written by Kevin Downswell “You Make Me Stronger”. I thought we sounded melodious.  After that, we went to the golf course on a golf cart and played golf for a little while. I used a golf club very well. Later, I went to the gift shop and got a beautiful bracelet which I will treasure as it marks my fun trip to Jewel Runaway Bay with my best friend, Nia. I had a really wonderful time at the hotel. The staff was delightful; the rooms were comfortable; the food was delicious and overall it was an extremely enjoyable stay.

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Nia-Ashley Harris :- My stay at Jewel Runaway Bay has been an amazing experience. On the first day of our stay since we arrived at about 5:30pm, we quickly changed to go to the Great Escape Restaurant. We all enjoyed the peculiar dishes which tasted delicious! As it grew later, we made our way back to the hotel room and watched YouTube and Netflix on the television. Fortunately, for us, we got to stay up really late! It was so fun!

On day two after breakfast at the buffet, my best friend Cara and I went to the recording studio to record Kevin Downswell’s version of Stronger. Our tour guide, Aunty Mellesley, showed us to the recording room, made entirely out of egg cartons. This fascinated me because they used recycled materials for a new purpose; absorbing sound! This is so interesting to me because I love science. After we recorded the song, we played Just Dance at the tween centre. Later, we went to the beach and sailed out into the ocean on a sailboat. Our guide was fun and gave us an amazing experience! At 8pm, we went to the Japanese restaurant for dinner, where they had a stove in the middle of the table so the chef could cook in front of us. The food was scrumptious! The chef was also warm and inviting.

We also went to the golf course where our guide taught us how to swing our golf clubs and hit the balls. Our instructor said I was a natural! I am truly elated to have been granted this wonderful stay at Jewel Runaway Bay!

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Israel Redwood: – Staying at the Jewel Runaway Bay was very exciting! I will give 10 fun and coolest things I enjoyed the most:

  • I enjoyed floating around in the Lazy River
  • The long tube slide at the water park was great!
  • I went in the super speed body slide many times.
  • The food area at the Water Park was good
  • I learnt to play golf. This was soo cool!
  • I met two boys one from Canada and the other from the USA and we played table tennis together!
  • The video games were great!
  • In the games centre I played Fifa games for hours.
  • I really just enjoyed running around and exploring the property.
  • The Japanese restaurant was really good and new for me. The chef prepared the food right in front of us!

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Immanuel Redwood: – My stay at Jewel Runaway Bay was very interesting I would give them a 5 Star!  The ten coolest activities I enjoyed there were:

  • I loved the tube slide at the water park.
  • Another winner was the super speed body slide!
  • I enjoyed the pool. There were two just outside of my balcony and a small one assigned to my room!
  • The boat ride was just amazing – we went sailing.
  • I played table tennis with two foreigners and it was fun!
  • The Fifa games in the games room made my day.
  • I learnt to play golf. I believed I hit my ball the farthest!
  • Going to dinner to the Great Escape in the golf cart was exciting!
  • The studio recording was fun. My brother and I did an original acapella.
  • Watching the chef at the Japanese restaurant was cool. The Chef next to my table was fun as he threw pieces of food into the guest’s mouth.

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RELATED: Swimming is for Everyone!

All in all, the kids gave the resort full marks, which is no surprise since the property was this year again named Best Family Resort in the region. Family and Faith Magazine is delighted that Scott Robbins was also honoured as Best General Manager. We couldn’t be happier! Jewel  Runaway Bay continues to be an escape from the wear and tear of everyday life to a welcoming place for great fun, beauty, camaraderie and relaxation!

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Swimming is for everyone!

Swimming has grown to be a popular activity for many groups within our communities. In fact, to say swimming is for everyone is not a stretch, but it is in fact the truth. In my many years actively involved in the sport, and now a teacher of the discipline and an advocate for the benefits of water activities, I can tell you without a doubt that swimming is for everyone.

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Babies and infants can participate in water activities

Babies or infants as young as 6 months old can participate in water activities. While they will not learn the technical skills to swim at this age, they will benefit from increased physical awareness as they experience their little bodies in a whole new way. From swimming lessons, babies naturally move their limbs, thus strengthening their muscles, coordination and even their lung capacity. In water, babies have the opportunity to explore with their parents and socialize with others their age, thus increasing their confidence. Babies who are involved in water activities and who are exposed to ‘swimming classes’ early are typically more confident, and exhibit less fear of water as they grow older.

If babies can do it, then there is no minimum age for starting your child in formal swim classes. Research from the German Sports College Cologne, “Baby Swimming: Advanced Independence and Development of Intelligence” has reported that children who engaged in swimming from infancy were significantly stronger and more coordinated and scored higher in intelligence and problem solving. They were also found to be more self-disciplined and self-controlled and had a greater desire to succeed.

Swimming is key to drown prevention

Based on these benefits, parents should get their child involved in swimming. Additionally if your child starts these classes earlier, then the possibility of them developing a fear of water will decrease. Gaining competences like kicking on their stomachs, being able to lift their head for a breath and being able to support their own body weight and eventually moving from one point to another, are all key to drown prevention. With increased exposure to open bodies of water, our children are more at risk for drowning or near drowning incidents today. Drown prevention is everybody’s business, and as parents, it is our responsibility to ensure that we provide our children with the skills they require to maintain life. Water safety is fundamental. It is a MUST. Swimming is therefore a lifesaving skill. Learning to swim can save your child’s life. Follow Aquaworx for more on our Drown Prevention Initiative.

How Swimming Benefits Teenagers and Adults

Teenagers involved in swimming (usually competitively) tend to be more organized and disciplined in other aspects of life. Training as a competitive swimmer requires dedication and commitment. Their drive to succeed in water often leads to their drive to succeed in other areas of their life. They are keen on time management and meeting deadlines. The discipline requires you to be a strong individual performer as well as strong team players. Outside of the damaged hair or sun drenched skin (which can both be prevented with the right products and practices) teenagers who swim tend to be extremely healthy based on the calories burnt as a result of a full body work out during training sessions.

Now as an adult, there are so many persons that can benefit from swimming (or water activities). This requires a dedicated article for itself however to support my claim that swimming is for everyone, lets briefly talk about Prenatal and the Rehabilitating sub-segments within the adult group. Water provides a gentle, weight bearing, low resistance and calming environment which is perfect for pregnant women and for individuals who are on the road to physical, mental and emotional recovery. Swimming, or water activities (prenatal aquatics or aqua rehab classes) are designed to allow these groups to increase their range of motion, stretch to de-stress and to increase muscle tone in a safe and progressive way. The gentle flow of water provides just enough resistance to challenge, but not hurt. Persons who experience progress in their recovery while in water tend to be more confident on land; their postures improve and more importantly, their self-esteem gets a boost!

I could write a book on all the benefits (tangible and intangible) since the list is long. Swimming changes and saves lives. Swimming is for everyone! Put it on your bucket list, not just for you, but your entire family. Sign up for a class today!

Narda Ventura is the Managing Director and Instructor at Aquaworx.

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An Outdoor Adventure for your Family

There is an adventure awaiting families in the hills of St. Ann. For one weekend in August, New Generation invites families to escape the commotion of their regular days and enjoy a new rhythm while immersed in God’s creation and connecting with other families.

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New Generation Ministries is a non-profit, non-denominational Christian organization which has been in existence since 1985, under its former name, Circle Square Jamaica. We run Christian adventure summer camps, youth leadership camps, couples camps, camps for at-risk teens as well as family camps. We also host camps, rent our campsite and train persons through team building and leadership development sessions. Our programs are designed to use outdoor adventure and Christ-centered programming to help persons grow in their relationship with others and with God.

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Our Family Camp is only in its 3rd year but it is becoming a regular fixture on the calendar of some parents. Here’s what one parent had to say:

“My kids look forward to Family Camp all summer. They know they won’t be bored as activities are planned throughout the day for them to enjoy with their friends. They also love sleeping in a tent. I love that at camp they are outdoors all day rather than on their electronic devices. In Kingston, many families don’t have access to large outdoor spaces and our kids spend a lot of time indoors. So when we come to New Generation’s campsite, my kids are excited to have this beautiful natural setting as their playground. As the kids have fun, the parents get to have fun too. There are no airs at family camp. As we relax together in a different environment, we get to shed the restrictions of our role definitions. This way kids get to see different sides of their parents and vice versa. This vulnerability strengthens our bond and helps make our family stronger.”

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Family Camp came about as a result of New Generation’s desire to invest in the family unit.  The camp has various components. Families can choose to sleep in one of our platform tents or in a bunk-bed style dorm room. Adventure can be found everywhere – in a huge tree house, by the river or on an adventure course with climbing ropes, chutes, tire swings and much more.

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There are break-out teaching sessions catering to fathers, mothers and single parents.  Parents are encouraged to pray with their children and include them in their faith story.  One session required each family to rate how well they were doing as a family in different categories such as: time in God’s Word, kindness, respect for parents and supporting each other’s interests. This time was an eye-opener and ended up being of real value to the families. Unlike at home, the kids had a voice in the group discussion and it was good to hear their perspective on things, as families talked about what they can do to make their family one that pleases God.

One father had this to say: “Family camp is an energizing mixture of adventure and bonding with other families in a beautiful outdoor environment that fosters rest. As a father there are things that you fantasize about doing in Kingston that became a reality at Family Camp – like sleeping under the stars. So each year we venture out to St. Ann for a long-awaited break from our daily routine. We always leave feeling rejuvenated. Our family gets a sense of hope and purposeful pursuit of the future. It’s a short time but at least it happens once per year and we thank New Generation for making it affordable.”

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Our hope is to keep making Family Camp an affordable and memorable vacation option where you can grow closer to God and closer to your family. This year we hope to have all 16 family spots filled. To find out more about camp and book your space visit our website at www.newgeneration-jm.org

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