Here we are. After months and months of questions, we finally know what we’ll be doing next.
Actually, we’ve known for a few weeks, but finally the timing is right for us to communicate.
Are you ready for this?
But before I say more, I want to just say “Thank you” again for all your support, prayers, and encouragements. We have had an amazing adventure over the past 3.5 years, and we could not have done this with the people that have gone ahead of us, walked alongside us, and spurred us on.
We are finishing up two weeks of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Camp in Allendale. I had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of this, through my job at USC-Salkehatchie.
With over 40-50 children signed up each week, we had our hands full. We had great teachers and student workers, but I was still exhausted at the end of the day. I’m getting old!
Nonetheless, I was excited to see these children learn and enjoy themselves every day!
What else has been going on? I’m glad you asked . . .
Last Friday, these children left Allendale in our minivan and went to Greenville for the Elementary Camp with Grace Church. For the three boys (including my son Elijah) it was a return trip to the camp, and for the two girls it was the first time ever at a sleep-away camp.
Besides the two girls, we actually had more children ask about going, even though they had never heard of Grace Church. Why? Because the five children who went last year told all their friends about what a great time they had.
Their excitement was contagious. You could say that they were camp-vangelists.
(And, yes, all five were chatterboxes for the three-hour trip back to Allendale. Do you think they’ll spread the word, too?)
With 90+ degree temperatures, we are in the dog days of the summer. But I was encouraged by these “cool” things that happened this week:
STEAM Camp: This camp has been going on for over 10 years, but I’ve gotten to be a part the past two. I love seeing the students learn with hands on activities (robotics, art, dissections, technology, etc). And during the moments of free time, I love seeing them play and compete. It looks chaotic, but they are having so much fun being together. You can see more photos here.
Here’s a warning for you: if we ever get together to talk, or if I hear you speak, I’m going to be taking notes. Ninety percent of the time, I carry around a steno pad, but even if I don’t, I’ll grab a scrap of paper or napkin to write things down.
Being a visual and kinesthetic learner, I absorb information better when I see and apply them. Writing notes and sketching diagrams are two ways that I do this. Plus, writing helps me process at deeper level, and provides a good outlet for the constant flood of ideas in my brain. (This is evidenced by the 1000+ blog posts I’ve written on three blogs I started over the past 5.5 years.)
So, if we meet, I’m going to ask questions, and listen, and write down ideas. I’m not interrogating you or trying to catch you slipping up. I’m merely stealing your ideas.
This is what I did when I had the opportunity to hear from two school administrators earlier this year, my former high school football coach and the current interim Superintendent of Allendale County Schools.
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.
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.
Will you support a camp experience for a child from Allendale?
Last fall, I was talking to someone who works for Allendale County Schools. We got on the topic of camps that we’ve done, and how we kids from other places come here to make new friends. (The relationships formed are the biggest reasons why we consider the Elevate Spring Break Camp a success.)
Then she asked me, “But have kids from Allendale gotten to go there?” Thanks to the support of many others, I was able to answer, “Yes!”
You may remember that more than $2000 was donated last summer to support students from Allendale going to a variety of camps. You may have even donated to that cause. If so, thank you for being a part of a life-changing opportunity.
Why Summer Camps?
Although we will be moving this summer, we will be involved with a few local camps. Local summer camps are an easy and effective way to engage children when school is out. However, there is a huge value in children attending out-of-town camps.