I am getting ready for Day 3 of a new (or re-launched, after being non-existent for 18 months) after school program for Allendale County. Besides being an after school program for children ages 6 – 13, we’ll also have an all-day summer camp. Many of you had asked for an update, so here it is:
Day 1 (Monday). Found out at around 1:30PM that there was a mis-communication in what our start date was, regarding kids being bused from schools. So any children that would arrive would have to be brought by parents. In this area, with one of the lowest (if not the lowest) automobile-to-household ratios in the state, transportation is a concern. We still had 28 children show up, which was about what we (me and two volunteers) could handle for 4 hours. Throughout the afternoon, we had dozens more applications dropped off, and blank forms picked up. Throughout the afternoon, we had time for homework, reviewing expectations (rules), snack, kickball and other outside activities, then games and crafts back inside. Worn out.
Day 2 (Tuesday). Sixty-five children. Yep, more than double; I hope we don’t keep with with the same expansion rate. Same two great volunteers (praise God!), plus my supervisor was there, and I immediately “deputized” two middle school guys to be leaders. (I just talked with one of the dads of those boys, and apparently he got home and crashed, since he was so worn out.) You have to understand that this building is about 3400 square feet, broken up into 4 rooms, so it’s pretty tight. Fortunately the weather was nice both days, so we could go outside. Unfortunately, we had a handful of children that were left until way after the 7PM closing time. No parents, no friends, no answer to our phone calls, or no way to come pick up the children.
Those of you who know me will understand that I am big on structure and processes. So, it’s been a little bit of a struggle figuring things out on the fly, especially with so many energetic kids, and parents coming in asking for even more applications (I think we have over 110 or 120 now signed up). It’s definitely tiring on all the leaders, and I would figure that the children would not enjoy it. But amazingly, these kids want to be here. Several asked me, “Do I get to come back tomorrow?” And when I explain that after 3 disciplinary actions, they are suspended from the club, they get sullen and serious.
One dad I talked with last week explained that typically his son would come home from school, do his homework, and then sit around doing nothing. He would ask his son why he would go out and play. The response was always, “There is no one out there to play with.” I’ve heard over and over, and now I see it, that for the most part, there is nothing to do. There aren’t a ton of close communities filled with kids; it’s mostly spread out. There are some rec leagues, but not all kids have the chance to participate (cost and transportation). There are not a bunch of Wii’s and Playstations. Nothing to do, but sit and wait for the day to be over.
So even though we leaders get worn out, we are committed. We wake up with a renewed energy, knowing that we are providing an opportunity for the next generation. We are being poured out for the sake of a much-needed ministry. If kids have nothing to do and that drives them to the Club, where we have even just a chance to have a small impact on their lives, that is all we could ask for.
Thanks for praying and for asking about what we are doing. Let me know if you have any questions. Also, be sure to subscribe to this blog, so you can keep up with all that is going on here.