Tag Archive | Elevate

Connecting Allendale, Summer Camp, and You


My son Elijah is excited about going to Camp Grace Rock Band camp, in less than a month. And he’s excited that five of his friends from Allendale want to come, too.

Read the story of one of his friends, Ardoine (“Doc”), who made a connection at a spring break camp that went beyond sports or activities. It was a connection with a Grace Church member, Ryan Voelkert.

Elevate Camp 2014 Elijah Voelkert“The reason we tell stories like this is not to promote Spring Break Camp in Allendale or Elementary Camp in Greenville. If we’re honest, a week at camp is not going to change a child’s life forever.

We tell these stories because they reflect the importance behind the Espinosa’s and Grace’s involvement in Allendale. Through the avenue of camps, a boy in Allendale gets connected with a family in Greenville.

The children in this family learn that friendships don’t have to depend on similarities in circumstance, race, or demographics. Lasting relationships are built. The gospel gets shared. Life change happens.

All because of a willingness to be a part of a community instead of coming in from the outside.”

That is exactly why we think camps are important.

You can read the full article on the Grace Church Pastor’s Blog or the Grace Church Kids Blog.

Will you support a camp experience for a child from Allendale?

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What Do We Know? Not Much.

Elevate Spring 2014 Day 1

Monday morning . . .

I don’t listen to the radio much, especially on the weekends. But whenever we travel on Saturday mornings, my wife and I like to listen to two shows, Car Talk and Whad’ya Know? Both of them mix humor with random (and occasionally helpful) pieces of information.

In the latter show, the announcer asks, “What do you know?” and the audience responds in unison, “Not much.”

And if you were to ask me (three years ago or today) what we know about running after school programs or day camps, I would simply and truthfully say, “Not much.”

Wanna’ know more? Sure you do…

10 Pictures from Elevate Camp

As you may know, we had our 3rd annual Elevate Spring Break Camp last week. I’ll write more in the future, but I at least wanted to give you 10 representative photos from the week.

Besides a little bit of bad weather (rainy 1 day, and cold for 1.5 days) and a bit of illness (including an apparent stomach virus in our family), it was a great week. We averaged about 55 kids per day, plus a dozen teenagers, plus another dozen adults. It was a great week of physical activity, fun games, arts, team-building, and more!

We are thankful for the adults, teens, and children who participated in this camp, and for the financial and other resources that were donated.

Elevate Soccer 14 Outside Day 1

Enjoying the great weather on day 1

Elevate Soccer 14 MS Girls

The 5th-8th grade girls group had perfect attendance!

Click here to see the rest…

The Most Important Thing in Missions (Sharing Our Story with CBC — Part 3)

Elevate Soccer Camp 2013

Finally, I’m concluding this series. As I wrote over 2000 words in these 3 posts, I’m amazed that I was able to share all of this in 12 minutes at CBC – Savannah. I could be an auctioneer.

You can listen to the complete podcast of the sermon, including my talk, on the CBC Sermon page. Try this link or this one. My part starts with about 12 minutes left.

In the last two posts, I explained the Context for Hopelessness in Allendale and then how we can engage that hopelessness through true hospitality and incarnation. I will conclude this topic with a quick explanation of missions done well, then a few examples of “random” opportunities to teach, and then some additional inspiration for you.

Missions Done Well

For missions and being missional, the goal must never be the event or the project or the program. Those are good things, but life change doesn’t happen by a project or program all by itself.

The primary means of missions is engaging others in meaningful relationships, for the purpose of helping others worship God. Life change always happens best in the context of community.

When it comes to “missions” programs, most churches use the relationship as the means to get the project done. They connect with certain people, get the team there and back home, and then they are happy. But this is wrong, and often harmful in the long-run.

Want to know a better way? Click here to learn more…

Elevate Spring Break Camp, Round 3


Every week since August, as I volunteer in the schools and eat lunch with students, students have been asking me, “When are we going to do that camp again?”

They might be referring to any number of camps that we were able to be involved with — including a summer STEM camp with my work, or my wife helping with arts and crafts during summer school.

But for many students, they are talking about one of the Spring Break Soccer Camps that we’ve been able to organize. And we’re happy to be able to help bring it back for the third straight year.

Click here to learn more…

Beautiful Like a Flower

Gabriel-and-Caleb ElevateDid you catch this post, You Are Beautiful Like a Flower, on the Grace Church website a few weeks ago?

Our friend Taylor Beard, who has been instrumental in Grace Church’s ministry in Allendale over the past few years, helped us with our Elevate Spring Break Camp. That’s when she met Caleb, who touched her heart and soul.

Grace Church’s work in Allendale had an impact on boys like Caleb, who were able to

  • be a part of this camp in Allendale,
  • take part in the annual elementary camp at Look-Up Lodge, and
  • go on a college field trip.

And the experience had an impact on Caleb’s mom, too. Be sure to read the full article to find out how.

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The Seeds of Partnership

Seed Art 2013

This past summer, we helped the Recreation Department with a week-long camp. It was the second summer in a row that we led the Soccer and Arts & Crafts camp, held at Fairfax Elementary School.

We don’t know much about soccer (even though we’ve done two years of Spring Break Soccer Camps), but we love kids, and we love to support other programs in Allendale.

As a part of this camp, we worked with the local Clemson Extension office, to do “Seed Art” as part of the craft time. Seed art is a 4H program, where you use various seeds to create artwork. The artwork from this area can then be entered in the Orangeburg County Fair. (You may remember that we did this a couple of years ago.)

Click here to read about our winners, and our partners…

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