Favorite Things from Last Week (July 2)
It was our last week of summer camp! We said “good-bye” or “see you later” to three dozen kids. We were exhausted, and yet enthused about the opportunity that we had to partner with the schools and with parents.
As we enter the second half of the summer, this will be a great time to not only give the highlights from last week, but also a chance to recap the entire month of Elevate Summer Camp.
Highlights from the Last Week of Camp
We welcomed to Allendale 30 people (high school and college students, as well as adult leaders) from Community Bible Church (Savannah). Almost half of these folks participated in our camp, while others did handyman work in the community, painted murals, or helped at a science camp for middle schoolers at USC-Salkehatchie.
Some volunteers at our camp engaged, befriended, and assisted children all-day, while others came in the afternoon to lead educational and recreational activities. This mission trip was the first for CBC, and most of them expressed a desire to return to continue building on the relationships that formed. (Be sure to watch their video of the week.)
With the extra volunteers, we were able to invite more children who had been on the waiting list. We averaged about 20 children in the morning (besides helping with activities for 80+ summer school students), and 35 children in the afternoon.
The extra volunteers also allowed us the leaders to have more time to spend with individual children. We had really great conversations about what success looks like, the need to trust God with our difficulties, and encouraging them in their God-given uniqueness.
The week concluded with a field day at local park. (The park was one of the work sites for the mural-painting team, and the mural is shown above.) Despite 100 degree weather, there was a nice breeze, lots of ice water, ice pops, and a (surprise) water balloon fight to keep everyone cool. With organized relays, face-painting, and a variety of other activities, over 60 Allendale children had a fun morning!
How God Made the Past Month a Success
Well, the most successful project was not the chicken eggs that we incubated. Only 6 out of 30 eggs hatched a baby chick. Despite the low output, the children enjoyed the experience of seeing some chicks, and even getting to hold them. (You can see photos of the chicks, and of other fun moments, on the Elevate Facebook page.)
My own kids thoroughly enjoyed the camp. Besides being with old friends, they each made at least one new friend. I love that my children have so many friends in Allendale. If we didn’t do camps like this, they’d basically have no friends to play with.
In the daily journal times, we gave all the children the opportunity (and mandate) to reflect upon their day. The most common theme was that they all enjoyed the camp, were thankful they could be there, and built relationships with loving leaders. Also, many children noted how they had “so much fun at school.” Catch that? They had a positive and fun experience at school. While at first, I was apprehensive about having a camp at a school building, it is a win that children equate school with fun, as we saw in the blessings of the spring break soccer camp.
Joanna and I loved working side-by-side with the teachers, administrators, and support staff of the school. We hope they felt encouraged and energized, because they need all the courage and energy they can get as they work hard throughout the school year. It was a blessing to be a part of their team.
And last, but definitely not least, we loved having a handful of local teenagers who volunteered throughout the month. Three football players, a couple of recent graduates, and a relative of one of the school staff members (who is in town for the summer). Elevate summer camp gave them a important role to play — leading the generation that follows them. We were able to be positive role models for the teenagers, and the teenagers were positive role models for the younger kids. We look forward to building on this concept in the future.
And for Next Month . . .
Instead of continuing to do our own programming, we plan to serve with other programs in Allendale for the rest of the summer. It will be nice to be able to serve, without carrying the weight of responsibility for the program, and we want others to know that we are a team with the same goal — giving the next generation hope, direction, and love.