“Anchored deep like a tree at a riverside…
Flying in formation together…
So that all may know community…
Wow! What a summer this has been. We had seven weeks of summer school that included reading, writing, math, Bible Study, character education, computer time, art, music and recreation. The classes for the students included health and nutrition classes and yoga, as well as special visits from the youth of New Hope Church, members of the Christian rap group, TEAM Jesus, Sharon Johnson (Yoga), Donna Johnson (Character Education), Candace Chamberlain (Palmetto Health), Robert Mason (Julliard School of Performing Arts) and many wonderful (34!) volunteers, not to forget our 12 faithful staff members. The students were able to help maintain and harvest vegetables and herbs from our community garden and made several trips throughout the community to share the harvest (Walter’s Retirement Home, College Place United Methodist Church, Lenoir Rhyne University offices) and share the harvest with their families and friends. Students also shared crafts and cards with church members and others and even managed a field trip or two (Earlewood Park, the State House and a blueberry farm, in addition to the vegetable/herb deliveries.) As you can tell, there were a variety of great experiences for all those involved.
Each day began with our song and our pledge and a class meeting time where we reviewed procedures and how the previous day went. We looked at the schedule for the coming day and talked about any special events or concerns. There was also time each morning for students to share prayer requests and praises and spend time talking to and listening to God. We thanked God for our time together, for camp, for our safety and health and asked God’s blessing for the day, praying that we would learn a lot, have a good time and to be safe. We prayed for the requests that were shared, thanked God for listening to our prayers and offered praise when our prayers for individuals were answered.
After our meeting, our four groups (Abraham’s Tribe, Daniel’s Crew, The Disciples and Timothy’s Class) spent the morning in 40-minute classes with certified teachers in reading, writing and math and one or two of the other classes offered. Then there was a lunch/recess block followed by more classes in art, music, Bible Study, character education and computers. There were also several other time periods in which they could play games in one of two game rooms, read independently in our reading room or participate in special activities. The curriculum for all of our classes centered around a theme for each week (“Who Am I”, “I Am Unique”, “I Am Loved”, “I Am Loving”, “I Am Talented”, “I Am Powerful”, and “Here I Am”) with the class activities to enforce the themes and provide a foundation for our Bible Study that emphasized a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
With a total enrollment of 60 students total (every interested student in the targeted 29203 attendance zone was offered a spot – there was no final waiting list), we had an average daily attendance of 40 or 77%. This compares favorable with other summer programs. Our students ranged in age from 4 to 12, with school experiences that included Pre-K – 5th grade. The groups were set up so that students of similar age and experience were together during the day. Each group of 15 students had an adult group leader that was with them all day. This provided a high level of consistency in the environment for the students each day. In addition, we were able to pre- and post-test about twice as many students as last year and we look forward to getting the results of those tests, in order to determine the effectiveness of our program in meeting the academic needs of our students.
Our primary focus was to provide a safe environment for our students where they could receive spiritual nurturing and support for their physical, social and intellectual development through the development of a community of learners. The relationships built between the staff and volunteers and the students and between each member of the community, student and adult, and our Lord were the most important outcome of this venture. I can only say that I have been truly blessed to be a part of such a powerful program and I thank God for the opportunity and Koinonia for the support! My favorite thing on the last day was having adults and children say, “We can’t wait for next year!”