Dodd Family Travels to Baltic Family Camp
This July, one CAC family, along with Christians from across Europe, will converge for a week of Christian fellowship at a campsite once used to teach the virtues of communism. Camp Ruta, an old Soviet Union indoctrination camp in Moletai, Lithuania, has become home to Baltic Family Camp — a place Terri Dodd and her family return to each summer with one goal in mind: “Feeding these families, encouraging them and helping them stay strong.”
Terri, CAC’s new business clerk, along with her husband Danny and their two daughters, Taylor, a seventh grader at CAC, and Jordan, a third grader at NLR Elementary, will venture to the camp later this month. Over the course of the week, Terri and Danny will teach Bible, Taylor will assist with the younger children, and Jordan will be a camper.
In the summer of 1998, Danny led a group of 18 Americans on a summer mission trip to the Baltic country and launched the children’s camp that laid the foundation for the family camp. Each year since then, the camp has drawn families from Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany and Russia. This year, Terri said, more than 100 people are expected to attend.
Danny and Terri served as missionaries in the capital city of Vilnius, Lithuania from 2001 to 2003. Working in a church of 20 members on a good day, the Dodd’s recognized an ongoing need for fellowship among the small and widespreadNorthern European churches.
“They come to learn more about Jesus because their churches are so small, and some people don’t even have churches where they live,” Taylor said. “They just come to see what it’s like to be in a church, and to learn about Jesus with other people.”
Among the camp’s offerings are Christian marriage counseling sessions, men’s and women’s Bible classes, and courses specifically for those who are new to or unfamiliar with Christianity. This year, the theme of the week is “Ten Thousand Reasons.” Each day, the Bible classes will explore a topic from the hymn, such as “You’re rich in love,” “Your name is great” and “You’re slow to anger.”
Inside the family camp is a smaller kids camp where children can participate in arts and crafts, sports, Bible classes and most of the offerings of a traditional American church camp. This year, in addition to being a camper, Taylor will watch the younger campers during worship so their parents can attend service together.
At the close of the week, families walk away with more than spiritual nourishment — they leave with new relationships they can rely on for lasting support. Terri said it’s common for these families to swap off speaking at each other’s churches, and to stay in contact throughout the year.
“That’s kind of like the reason for it,” Terri said, “To get these churches connected, and to knowing that they’re not alone — even though they have five people in their church — they’re not alone.”