Summer Camp: Mid-Summer Update

After week off, we are back at Summer Camp. We are thankful to partner with Long Branch Baptist Church, as it has been a wonderful opportunity for our family, and for 40+ children in this neighborhood and in this church.

This experience has been new for us — being leaders at a summer camp without being in charge of it. We are thankful that we haven’t been in charge. For one, it has helped us to step back and not carry such a big load. But even more, we see that the leaders at Long Branch have done a number of things so much better than we could have!

During the first few weeks of this camp, Joanna and I noticed how loving those leaders are. This church has some younger adults and college students serving, most of the ones involved are older. And while these folks might not have the energy level they once did, their love and passion for children is obvious.

Click here to learn more, and to watch a fun video of our campers…

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Grace Church, Elevate Youth, Me, and You

I’ve been a part of Grace Church for 19 years now. No doubt, 99% of who I am is because of how people in this church have taught, mentored, lead, and served me.

I could say I owe Grace Church a lot, but the truth is that God deserves all credit and glory. Grace Church has been His tool that has shaped me.

But a very important tool. Grace Church . . .

  • is the first church I was a member of (I became a Christian 20 years ago);
  • was where I first started serving with children (I knew nothing about kids, except having been one);
  • was where I met my wife;
  • entrusted with me leading Children’s Ministry for four years;
  • empowered and equipped our family to serve in Allendale, SC for 3.5 years.

As a whole, Grace Church has continued to support and partner with me (and with God’s ministry through me) for nearly two decades.

And it’s still going on.

Read more about Grace Church’s partnership with my new organization, Elevate Youth, on the Grace Pastors Blog.

Then, you can check out these links for more explanation and inspiration:

Clubhouse Kids: By the Numbers

This is our last week of Clubhouse Kids after school program, before we take a break for the summer.

We could share lots of stories of how we’ve seen children grow and learn and be loved. I already have, here and here and here.

Instead, especially since I’m a math guy, I’ll just share some numbers of what’s been happening over the past few months:

  • nearly 150 hours of reading,
  • more than 250 hours of homework assistance,
  • more than 250 hours of exercise and physical activity by children (to say nothing of us adults!)
  • dozens of arts and crafts creations (all credit to my wife)
  • 180 volunteer hours (which is worth far more than the calculated $4152.60)
  • 520 snacks served to children, virtually all of which were donated
  • $2500 donated to send kids to summer camps

This doesn’t quantify the new relationships that formed, especially between kids from the neighborhood and outside the neighborhood (since they don’t go to school together).

And it doesn’t include the spiritual and emotional investment our team has made in the hearts of these children. As one mom told me:

“They come home talking about all kinds of stuff about the Bible that you guys are teaching them.”

To our volunteers, families, and donors, we give a big . . .

THANK YOU!!!

You are making an invaluable and eternal difference.

Help Create Beautiful Memories for a Child This Summer

A couple of weekends ago, I spent two nights at a retreat with a few 5th and 6th graders from Grace Church.

And when I say “a few,” I mean about 250 children. Plus leaders. Yikes.

Despite my distaste for retreats (chaos, lack of sleep, noisy, dirty, crowded) I am glad I went, because I got to be with some special people in my life:

  • my son Elijah,
  • my small group of 6th grade boys,
  • a 5th grade girl from our Clubhouse Kids after school program.

The young lady had a great time. On the first night, she told her leader, “This is the best night I’ve had in a long time.” She got to be with friends from school (but whom she doesn’t interact with much outside of school), and make a lot of new friends.

Her positive experience reminded me of the importance of helping students (especially those from under-resourced communities) get to summer camp.

Read how you can do the same…

Job(s) Update: Have I Enjoyed Teaching?

Lead Academy

Next week, middle schoolers across the state will begin taking standardized tests. This includes my math students at Lead Academy.

Most teachers love the few weeks after testing and before the end of the year, since they get to come up with fun and engaging projects. Not me. My expertise is not in designing and leading projects, and I’m more about “working hard” than “having fun.” (Not exactly what middle schoolers look for in a teacher.)

Have I Enjoyed Teaching?

Over the past few months, when people have asked me if I’ve enjoyed teaching, I . . . hesitate . . . and . . . pause . . . for . . . a . . . while. . . . That is usually all the answer they need.

Don’t hesitate. Click here to learn more…

How Do You Engage and Enlist Others for a Cause?

football 2014 region champs

In 20 years of working, I have worked in solo roles, and on a team of collaborators. I have worked for bosses, and I have been a boss. But the most rewarding and challenging roles I’ve had is when I led teams of volunteers.

These teams of volunteers varied in size: from a handful of people who serve with our after school and summer camp programs, to when I helped lead more than 500 volunteers in Children’s Ministry. The reward for me is seeing people use their gifts and resources to bless others. The challenge for me is the continually engagement and enlisting of people to give up their time.

One thing I learned is the value of casting a vision for the cause at hand. If you lead volunteers (or any kind of team), you must communicate the why, what, and how of your mission.

Want to learn more? Read my guest post on Jonathan Pearson’s blog: How Do You Help Others Cultivate a Heart for a Cause?

Related Links:

Summer Camp for a Purpose

4H Camp 13July

Parents — are you sending your kids to camp this summer?

Whether it’s a week-long or summer-long experience, and whether it’s a day camp or a residential camp, I have something for you to think about . . .

Don’t let your kids’ camp experience be all about them.

And if you want to add another . . .

Don’t send your kids to camp alone.

Click here to keep reading…