Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sonshine Kids Day Camp

During college I had always wanted to be a summer camp counselor, and it never worked out, so it's funny that now, years later, I would have the opportunity to do just that. Little did I know what I was getting myself into, as I prepared and trained to work with ARM's summer staff as a day camp coordinator.


My job for these past two months consisted of several responsibilities:
  • Welcoming and hosting volunteer teams from all over the Southeastern U.S.
  • Planning and leading nightly worship and reflection time, along with my co-workers
  • Coordinating day camp activities for each day such as crafts, games, Bible lessons, snack, and reading time
  • Contacting youth group leaders about their team's involvement in day camp programs
  • Actually interacting with and supervising the children each day at camp
Now I have worked with children before in several settings: teaching English, Vacation Bible School, tutoring, babysitting, etc. Even so, this summer I learned many a-lesson about patience, working as a team, flexibility, structure, and decisiveness. After having worked with kids most of the 17 months I lived in Ecuador, I felt pretty prepared for this summer. And by prepared, I mean that I had very little expectations, I was ready to have to start everything from scratch and for kids to randomly show up one day and not the next with no explanation.

In some ways, I was pleasantly surprised. For example, ARM has done day camp for over 10 years and the organization has a good training and framework for how the camp should run. But I was right in that it turned out to be a ton of work! This summer I hardly had time to check my email or Skype with friends or loved ones. At the start of the summer, we diligently worked to set up a daily schedule filled with fun and learning to keep our 20-25 kids busy each day. Then each day we received the kids with greetings and hugs, invited them into this safe and nurturing space, and learned about God's love.

Here is a summary, in photos, of what my summer looked like:








The staff I worked with on a regular basis were wonderful, along with our counselor-in-training. They helped me every step of the way, when the going got rough, and never said no to accepting more responsibility when we were short-handed.


Week by week we also had youth group teams come to help us at camp. Teams made our life easier because they would often come with activities planned that we could use with the kids, and having more adults (or youth) in the room gave the kids the one-on-one attention that is so important. These youth played a vital role in our ministry with the kids!

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