I've told this story a few times before, but I can't help mentioning again how wonderful the young people are who lead and run the Grace Adventures Day Camp at Grace Community Church in Fulton, MD. The camp begins their 5-week run on June 30 this year. Please check out their website for more information: GRACE
When my daughter, Melody, finished Kindergarten, I decided to look into the camp. I didn't know much about it except that it was at our church, and that it would help me by giving Melody a place to go while I was at work. The hours are actually identical to her school hours. It was perfect.
She was a little bit worried about the whole thing, but after her first day, she was excited and looked forward to it. That first year, her counselors made such an impression on her, she still stays in touch with them to this day. She talked about the counselors more than her friends and camp-mates. It wasn't just the attention they gave her, which was important for a little girl who doesn't have a mom in her life; it was the fact that they treated her as if she was important to them, and, as Christ-followers, they have such an influence on her, showing her Christ's love through their actions. How awesome is that?
This continued every summer (she's finishing up fourth grade this year), and while many of the same faces are there year after year, there are many new ones, and they come in with the same mission as the ones before, and the kids love them. My supposedly introverted little girl became this outgoing socialite due to the way the counselors and young adults treated her and talked to her. They became such a positive, Christ-centered influence on all of the kids, and they talked to them at their level, earning their trust and providing so much fun for them. These young leaders walked the walk, too. You could see Christ working through them.
Something else happened, too. These young ladies had a big influence on me, as well. My daughter's introvertedness is come by honestly, since I'm much the same. I didn't know what to make of the attention they gave to Melody, but there was a carry over. They obviously loved on her to the point that she talked about them constantly, and as a result, they felt comfortable enough to treat me much the same. I'm a recovering widower who, at times, felt lost and alone trying to care for my young daughter, and these young ladies provided me with support in the form of that love for Melody and that filled me with confidence. I don't know if they know this, but that made such a difference in me as a single parent. By bringing out my daughter's personality, it opened up my relationship with her that much more. And I became invested in the camp's success as a result.
The camp regularly held fund-raisers for their scholarship program, and they began inviting Melody to be a part of these efforts. Each year, they had a breakfast at the Applebee's in Columbia, and Melody was permitted to serve with them. By including her, they included me, and I got to know these women personally. They are now my friends. And I will do whatever I can to support each of them to be a success.
The hardest thing about being a part of such a well run and well staffed group like the one that runs Grace's camp is that, because these young women are establishing themselves in their chosen careers, they just can't continue to work with the camp, so there's an inevitable changeover in staff and counselors each year. Thankfully, because they have set the bar pretty high, those that come after them carry on the tradition of sharing Christ's love in their relationships with the campers. It's wonderful to see.
I wish I could do more for these wonderful young people and for the camp. I wish I had more time to volunteer with them. I will try to be available when they need support, whether it's putting together an outdoor play area or supporting their scholarship program, or joining them at their weekly fund-raising nights at the Johns Hopkins Road Chick-Fil-A, because, ultimately, it's all about the kids, and my daughter is one who benefits. But what is happening at this camp each summer is special, and if you are looking for a place for your children this summer to have fun, be loved, and be worn out each day, please look at Grace Adventures Day Camp. It runs for five weeks beginning June 30. It's a great place because the people running it are great.
Shout out and much appreciation to Misses Michelle, Amy, Cree, Grace, Sarah, Erin, Caitlin, and so many others. Thank you!