Top 10 HIGHLIGHTS OF MCRC Summer Camp 2015
10-FOOD: Maudie Parsons, Head Cook, oversees a lovely group of ladies who prepared delicious and nutritious meals for us, each day. This year we added a salad bar, extra cut-up fruit and vegetables, which the children devoured.
9-Church Donations: Last year, we ran out of equipment and supplies – but not this year! We had plenty of balls, First Aid supplies, lifejackets and hand soap this year thanks to all the church groups that collected items for us. Once again, thank you churches!
8-Operation Fun: First Presbyterian Church Lumberton raises money to send children in their community to Monroe, and has done so for 60+ years. This year, they sent a total of 50 campers! During this week we are always amazed to watch these children experience new things for the first time, such as riding on horses, canoeing, shooting a bow and arrow, cooking on a campfire and even hearing God’s message in a new way.
7- “Camp-in-a-Van:” First Presbyterian Church Sanford piloted our new program that brings camp to the church, much like a Vacation Bible School program. FPS expected to serve many of their own children but were delighted to find that more children from the community signed up, making for an awesome outreach ministry. We look forward to doing more programs like this in the future.
6-Specialty Programs: Dance, Drama, Culinary, Horse, Mission, Night Owls, Photography, Sports and Swim Camp were all a huge success this summer. With these particular programs we brought in professionals to give campers 2 hours of extra time each day to focus on areas of particular interest. The kids and counselors seemed to enjoy the variety that these activities brought to their day. As our campers age, we want to continue to give them programs that excite their curiosity and make them look forward to coming to camp next year.
5- Summer Staff: The Summer Staff is at the heart of MCRC’s Summer Camp program. This year we had a wide range of staff members who came from UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Pembroke, Appalachian State and Methodist University. Their interests, personalities and passions were as varied as the schools they attend. During Staff Training, there was an immediate bond made amongst the staff. It’s normal that among the members they often form cliques with people who have similar interests. But not this year. The staff worked together as a full team the entire summer. On Fridays, we gather to reflect on our High’s and Low’s of the week. Surrounded by the heat and the bugs, it’s amazing to hear how God is at work through their camp experience. For these college students, this experience is life changing. Many are eager to come back again next year!
4- Bus Donation: Bill Robertson of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Laurinburg lives out his faith by doing acts of service for those in the community. Bill is a great mechanic and loves to collect old school buses to be used for church or camp. This summer, Bill remodeled a 40-passenger school bus for Monroe’s use. Not only did he donate his bus, but he donated his time as bus driver all summer long. Every day and multiple times a day, the bus went to and from the Rivendell Equestrian Center and other locations for the specialty camps. Bill and his bus were both huge assets to the camp this summer.
3-Rivendell Equestrian Center: Since our horses retired in early spring before summer camp, we knew we would have to find a way for our campers to ride. Through God’s grace, we got in touch with Helen Adam’s, St. Andrews graduate, at the Rivendell Equestrian Center which is approximately 8 miles away from camp. The kids loved it! They enjoyed Helen’s instruction, the new horses, and the ability to stay in an air- conditioned area while they waited to ride. Using the Rivendell Equestrian Center and Helen’s leadership turned a negative into a big positive!
2-Chaplains in Residence: Bill Hayes, Eva Monroe Ruth, Whitney Wilkinson, Barbara Pipo and Samantha Taylor all did outstanding jobs leading our campers in worship. We believe the activities that we provide such as swimming, canoeing, crafting, archery, field games and more all help campers to grow in their abilities as well as their relationships with God and one another. During worship, each Chaplain creatively brought a message that helped the children to understand that “We are Living in God’s Time.” This summer we worshipped around the campfire, at Vesper Dell, and in Boyd Hall around Candlelight. We also partook in communion under the stars in Boyd Field. Each week we used the same curriculum but the Chaplain helped to make it unique with creative role play, beautiful poetry, praying with our eyes open, giving us something to take in our “pockets”, as well as a solid theological message for children today.
1- Meaningful Summer: Lastly, the highlight of the summer was the 209 campers we served through our residential, Operation Fun and Camp in a Van programs. At the beginning of my 3rd summer as Director, I was a bit anxious about our numbers, wanting Monroe to always exceed expectations. Sometimes, we spend a lot of time in our churches concerned about numbers as a way to define our success. While our numbers were not significantly lower (237 in 2014), I’m reminded of the huge difference we made to the kids that came to Monroe this summer.
As I get to know our campers and their families more and more, I realize that many kids have already had some difficult life experiences. So at Monroe we are able to create a safe space for kids to be kids, while also growing in skills and abilities. I watched this summer as our campers grew in their abilities to swim, canoe, ride a horse, as well as growing in their abilities to be away from home, to take care of themselves, to navigate peer relationships and grow in their faith. One camper shared with our chaplain “I’ve been going to church all my life, but somehow it all just clicked for me this week. Thank you.”
Today, children so desperately need to hear a hopeful message as they continue to navigate through their seasons of happiness, sadness, anger, and frustration. This summer, we provided our campers with a foundation of the Christian faith, walking through the liturgical season and reminding them of God’s presence with us through the ever changing seasons of life.
When I think back on this summer, I’m reminded of the story “The Star Thrower” by Loren Eiseley. In the story, a man walks the beach daily throwing starfish back into the ocean. When asked why he would do such a thing, considering there were thousands of starfish on the beach daily, the Star Thrower, picks up a starfish throws it back in the ocean and says “made a difference to that one.” Every summer that we run our summer camp we are touching the lives of children through our ministry. So, we exceeded our expectations. Our campers get a chance to hear, share and live the gospel message. For Cheyenne, Jordan, Patrick, Joey, Eli, Rebecca, Raheem, Calista…and the list goes on – we made a difference to that one. We made a difference to the lives of 207 children. For which, this is THE HIGHLIGHT of the summer!