What Surprised Me About Summer Camp

Owling has only, thus far, been done at home

Today is the last day of our summer programming. We’ll have a week off, where we’ll go to Greenville for a few days, see my brother’s new baby in Columbia, and then come back to Allendale to finish up our break.

Then, we’ll begin with our after school program on the first day of school (August 16). I think we’ll have 70-80 sign up within the first month. My friend and co-worker Marvin Love believes we will average 75 kids per day. I sorta’ hope he’s right, and I sorta’ hope he’s wrong.

In a recap of the summer, here are something unexpected great things that have happened:

  • The Awesomely-Long Days. In May, we couldn’t imagine how we would make it with a 8AM to 5PM schedule. But now, we wouldn’t want it any other way. It was a need for parents, it gave us more time to develop relationships, and we know that the kids really wanted to be there (most arrived by 8:15, and didn’t leave until after 4:30).
  • Relationships with Kids. We are amazed just how close as we grew to the kids, especially the ones who came almost every day. It almost makes us wish to not get any more kids in the fall, so we can focus on these. We have an extra bond with our summer kids.
  • New Faces. Of the 50 kids that came at least one week, about one-third were brand new. We expect most of them to return in the fall (besides getting back many of kids we had in the spring). Parents have told us, “We’ve heard such good things about what you guys are doing,” and “All my boys talk about is what’s going on here.”
  • Great Competitions. The best week was Olympic week, where we had great competitions and lots of opportunities to talk about leadership and character.
  • Developing Leaders. A few of the older boys, in particular, really developed as leaders. They encouraged younger kids, showed enthusiasm, and came up with great ideas for our programming.
  • House Guests. Having at least a dozen guests stay at least one night with us, at different points over the summer. We’re going to miss them all the activity.
  • Our Favorite House Guest. The new close friendship we have with Hannah Swoap. She’s the kind of girl I want my own Hannah to be like, and whom I want my sons to marry (except for her being a picky eater).
  • Dozens of Volunteers. How much of an impact the volunteers had, not just what they did, but with the relationships that were formed — including all the Grace students, the 4 moms and 11 kids, and the three students who came back.
  • Increased Community Involvement. I thought that people would have laid low in the summer. But we got a new volunteer that will continue in the fall. Plus we had three groups prepare lunches for the kids on different occasions — Fairfax Baptist Church (twice), Allendale Baptist Church, and Fairfax Police Department. Two teenage girls from Fairfax Baptist even stayed up to 3AM to make delicious cupcakes for the kids!
  • Our Own Kids Having Meaningful Relationships. That our own kids would not just refer to the boys and girls here by name, but would refer to them as “my friends” over and over.

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