This week's Saturday collection is focused on kids and ministry to children both in the United States and internationally. We're in the middle of summer and that means most diocesan and parish summer camps are in full swing. Two of the diocesan camps have gotten special attention from the media this week.
First off is is the Wyoming Wilderness Camp run by the Diocese of Wyoming. They put together a special program this year to make sure some children who might not otherwise have the chance to get outdoors would have the opportunity:
"With the help of several grants and donations, children ages 8 to 11 from Casper, Douglas, Dubois and others had a real summer camp experience just north of Laramie Peak. Without the financial help, campers would have been charged a $400 fee, a cost already subsidized to keep camp affordable, said Pat Walsh, the camp director. Thanks to the grants and donations, the campers pay nothing.
Although the children are younger than the usual campers and come from diverse and difficult backgrounds, the focus was still on human and environmental relationships, Walsh said.
‘This program changes kids,’ Walsh said. ‘It’s cool to see them all being comfortable around each other.’
By the third day, the 26 campers not only knew one another — they were friends."
Full story here.
The Diocese of Southwest Florida is featured for its camp ministry this week as well. The article describes how the summer camp at DaySpring Camp and Conference center has the children interacting with each other and with God. What makes this particular camp experience noteworthy is that all the children present are "differently abled". As such it's a rare chance for them to be with their peers, learning with and from each other.
But the article especially points out how important the camp is to the volunteer counselors, many of whom use their vacation time from work to be at the camp doing ministry:
Parishioner Wade Mundinger suffered a stroke in May. He could not walk or talk. His goal was to be well enough to serve at Camp Able. And serve he did. He assisted with the water activities. “My first time was last year and I immediately joined the fundraising team,” said Mundinger. “I saw God in the eyes of the campers the very first day. They arrived quiet, shy and some were scared. The quiet soon became chatterboxes. They felt safe and confident.”
Mundinger also saw God at work in the first-time counselors as they rose to the occasion to help others. He also remarked on the amount of respect that the counselors had for each other, the campers and staff members.
The demeanor of the counselors also impressed octogenarian and first-time volunteer Dave Ballantine. “It takes a lot of empathy. It’s gratifying to see the youth perform in such a noble manner. They are aware of their responsibilities.”
Adult volunteer Tom Weis said, “The kids act out their faith, doing the most to attend to all the needs of the campers.… The experience makes us profoundly aware of how blessed you and your families are to have good health.… We see God in their smiles.”
And finally this week, here's a story of how an Episcopal parish has partnered with M.I.T. to provide unique educational resources to children in Honduras:
With the help of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and members of the St. Andrews Episcopal Church mission trips, the youngsters of Santa Rosita will be a part of the One Laptop Per Child program.
Locally, the church has taken on the Owen Project, which helps to raise money for the specialized laptops being created by MIT.
Mark Keddal, of the Owen Project, said MIT has designed a personal computer specifically for the needs of the rural population.
“It was an effort to create a laptop for third-world conditions with incomplete electric supplies where it is usually pretty isolated,” he said. “It is wireless and equipped with 14 educational programs — pretty much anything an American laptop would have. And it gives immediate access to the Web. This way you are empowering the kids themselves to explore.”