We couldn’t do it by ourselves.

Sawyerville Day Camp is quite the production, and like anything great, we couldn’t possibly do it by ourselves. We owe camp to so many people, but we are endlessly thankful to our friends in the Black Belt of Alabama for welcoming us into their community and for serving Sawyerville better than we ever could alone.

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To all our church families, thank you for keeping us in faith and in food. Thank you St. Paul’s Greensboro for the catfish lunch that is such a staple of Greensboro and now Sawyerville. Thank you Trinity Demopolis for welcoming us into your congregation to share a service with y’all and for the delicious barbeque afterwards. Thank you Greensboro Baptist church for the yummy french fries. Thank you Third Street Church of God for providing ice cream sundaes for the staff, because the only thing that makes a great day better is some ice cream at the end of it.

To our friends at Project Horseshoe Farms, thank you for helping to make this summer with the Yellowhammer Learning Program the best yet. Our students made leaps and bounds this summer, and we are so grateful to y’all for helping to make that happen.

To Judson College and Marion Military Institute, thank you for making everyone’s favorite part of the day possible. The pool is such a joyful time for our campers, students, and even our staff, and we can’t thank y’all enough for welcoming us into your facilities. To Judson, thank you for not only giving us your pool, but also your gym. That space is invaluable for Lower Camp. To Colonel Passmore and Mrs. Holmes at MMI, thank you for welcoming us back to your beautiful facility. Having a second pool to swim at just makes camp all the better, and we are so grateful to you. And to Ms. Suttles, thank you so much for being there with Upper Camp and Middler Camp each and every day. It meant so much to us, and we hope you had a little bit of fun witnessing all of our pool antics.

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To those that provided further enrichment for our campers and students, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. To Jo Taylor, thank you for doing the book making seminar with our YLP students. They had so much fun with it, and it was something we never could have done without you. To the Black Belt Community Foundation, thank you for providing the grant for our Upper Campers to hone their arts and crafts skills. That was one of our most popular activities, and the campers had so much fun working on their creations each week.

To those in the Greensboro community who welcomed us so graciously into their homes and their businesses, thank you, thank you, thank you. To Laird Cole, thank you for opening the Johnston Tolbert House to us. We are always to thankful to have that space. To HERO Housing, thank you for letting our interns live at Martin Stewart all summer. Its walls hold our absolute favorite memories. To Pie Lab, thank you for welcoming our new staff members and giving them a taste of the yummiest part of Greensboro. And to the Safehouse Museum, thank you for reminding us what this is all about. You reinforced how crucial our goal of improving race relations is, and assured our new staffers that the work they are doing here is important and impactful.

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And finally, to the Hale County Board of Education and Greensboro Elementary School. We truthfully cannot thank you enough for making all of this possible. Without your facilities, your cafeteria staff, your buses and drivers, and your support, this camp we cherish and love so much could never happen. To our cafeteria staff and our bus drivers, you are invaluable to us, and we are so glad you are a part of this team. To Mrs. Richey at GES, thank you for your flexibility with us as we tried new things this summer, and for opening up new parts of your building to us so that we could truly make this summer the best yet. To Ms. Heartsill, thank you for making sure we got every package and for sharing your family with us all summer long. And to Stanley, thank you for making sure our coffee was hot each morning and for always making sure our doors were unlocked. And to all the faculty and staff, thank you for sharing your school and your students with us. Thank you for letting this camp grow and for allowing us all to fall in love with this community and its children.

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YLP Field Trips

As our fourth and final week of YLP approaches, the learning program looks back on our fun times we have had learning together over the field trips we have been on. Field trips at the Yellowhammer Learning Program enable our students to apply what they learn in the class room to the outside world. Each morning the students have been learning in the class room so that on Fridays, also known as “Field trip Fridays,” the children get to apply their knowledge to the environments around them.

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Here our wonderful students, staff, and teachers pose outside of the Birmingham Museum of Art.

 

The McWane Science Center 

Twice, the McWane Science Center has traveled down to Greensboro to further the children’s engineering skills. The kids constructed houses out of play-doh and mixed materials that were then tested against a model tornado. This activity was geared towards a trial and error experimental process that helped teach them how to revise and act on plans. Additionally with the McWane Center, the kids got to work with color detecting robots. Our students created patterns with specific colors to tell the robots the direction to move and how fast to move.

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Our YLP kids experimenting with color detecting robots with the help of our teachers and the McWane Science Center from Birmingham. 

Book Making

Book making is an activity done where the students as a class create a story together and individually create books and stories. We have learned how to create books which have tested the kid’s growth mindset. This has taught them that you can eventually learn to do something even if you are not able to originally. The growth mindset is an idea that people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. We have been encouraging this idea throughout our curriculum in all aspects. The story created by the whole class during bookmaking will be shared at Parent Night this Friday the 14th at 6 p.m. in the Greensboro Elementary Auditorium along with many other student creations throughout the summer. Additionally, it will be shared with the Colonial Haven Nursing Home for our final field trip this upcoming summer.

Our Trip to Birmingham 

We traveled to Birmingham and visited the Zoo and Museum of Art. At the Birmingham Zoo, kids in the Yellowhammer Learning Program got to pet and hold exotic and endangered animals. Additionally, we traveled to each of the enclosures and saw animals from Africa, Asia, and those native to the Americas. At the Museum of Art, each child participated in a scavenger hunt searching for works of art and sculptures from different eras and locations. We especially thank St. Thomas for providing lunch for us at the zoo that afternoon!

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Our own student getting to touch an endangered species of turtle at the Birmingham Zoo.

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The scavenger hunt at the Museum of Art inspired many of our kids creatively and challenged them differently from routine class days.

The May Farm

We had local field trips and traveled to the May farm in Sawyerville, AL where the students got to experience nature and go on a nature hike and scavenger hunt. This field trip directly correlated to what our students were learning in Science. Focused on insects, the science curriculum was furthered outside the classroom by a scavenger hunt lead by our teachers and Horseshoe Farm fellows.

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YLP Kids get the opportunity to learn about the local insects, plants, and animals of the surrounding area in Sawyerville, AL. Especially thanks to our guides at the May Farm!

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Anna Klopak, YLP’s Field Trip and Supply Coordinator, says that, “these field trips serve to broaden the kids horizons through traveling and testing their skills they have learned in the classroom.” Our YLP field trips create a fun learning environment that is different from the everyday classroom setting.

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Summer Challenge 2017

The Jernigan Foundation has done it again!

If you have kept up with Sawyerville Day Camp over the years, you will remember that last summer, the Jernigan Foundation offered us a generous matching gift of $10,000. This meant that for every dollar raised, the Jernigan Foundation would match it, with the potential to turn $10,000 into $20,000. With your generosity, we actually raised over $27,000, and this summer we have the opportunity to raise even more than that! This year, the Jernigan Foundation is offering a $15,000 matching gift, which means by the end of the week, we could raise $30,000, or more!

This summer, we thought we would have some fun with it. For every challenge completed in fundraising, our staff or campers will complete some other kind of challenge. You can be on the look-out for all the silly shenanigans this week as we get the Summer Challenge 2017 rolling!

We hope that by the end of seven days, we’ve raised a whole lot of money, had a whole lot of fun, and provided the funding necessary for a whole lot of growth and learning. Whether you’re a regular donor or you’ve only considered donating to Sawyerville or YLP, now is the time to give! YOU can make a difference in the lives of nearly 750 children. It’s all for the kids!

Make sure to watch the video to learn more about this awesome opportunity, and to keep up with us on social media all week!

SDC Instagram // SDC Twitter // SDC Facebook

YLP Instagram // YLP Twitter // YLP Facebook 

Day1

Balling Out

If you’re from the state of Alabama, there’s a good chance you have watched at least one University of Alabama football game. And if you have, there’s also a good chance you have seen something a little strange on the sideline after an exceptional defensive play. At every Alabama football game, a WWE belt floats around, passing from the hands of coaches to the hands of worthy players. That sideline is full of the best of the best, but they still acknowledge those that go above and beyond. It’s a part of their culture to do better than their best and to recognize good, hard work.

Like the University of Alabama, Sawyerville Day Camp is full of traditions, and as we embarked on our twenty-fourth summer, we thought it was about time we start a new one. Taking a page from the University of Alabama’s book, we decided to award our own “Ball Out Belt” to the counselor in each camp that went above the call of duty in service, attitude, helpfulness, love, hard work, or just about anything else. There is no doubt in our minds that we have the best and the brightest on staff every summer here at Sawyerville, but any staff member could attest to the positive effect that the exceptional work of another has on them. The SDC staff is as much a team as the one wearing crimson and white standing on the sideline on Saturday afternoons is, and we so appreciate those that go above and beyond for this team.

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So, a new tradition was born during Session 1. Each night in camp meetings, the coordinators and staff determined who will win the Ball Out Belt for being a baller that day. Then, at the end of staff worship, the belts were awarded. There were cheers and drumrolls and dramatic readings about the merit and characteristics of a Ball Out Belt recipient. Stories of wonderful work were told, and pictures were taken. The next day, the ballers wore their belts proudly around camp until handing it over to the next recipient that night.

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The Ball Out Belt was been a whole lot of fun this summer, as well as an important symbol. It served as a “thank you” for all the hard work that goes into making camp a success. It acted as a motivator, to encourage everyone to go above and beyond. And it stood as a symbol of a “better than your best” culture, a culture Sawyerville strives to have every single day. 

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The certificate reads,

“You are among the first of many lionhearted champions of Sawyerville Day Camp. Your send of duty and commitment today and every day has set the precedence for years of greatness. You have paved a golden path for the parade of mighty counselors that will strive to follow in your exemplary behavior. With the grace of a gazelle and the strength of a raging fire, you proved your abilities as a leader in the way you showed love to your campers and fellow counselors today. Your character and might pierced through the sweat and rose above the heat of this day. Men and women like you are the backbone of this band of brothers and sisters. You have been given the privilege to wear the Ball Out Belt because of your fortitude today, but with great honor comes great responsibility. You must honor the gravity of this symbolic gesture. Go forth and continue to uphold and defend the covenant with your life as is your duty and destiny. Continue to prove through word and action that not all heroes wear capes, but that the great ones wear belts.”

 

YLP is the place to be!

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The Yellowhammer Learning Program, the academic extension of Sawyerville Day Camp, is underway! The YLP works towards the same goals as the day camp: to love God, broaden the horizons of participants and staff, and improve race relations in Alabama. While the day camp accomplishes these goals through Bible lessons and group activities, the Yellowhammer Learning Program accomplishes these goals through academic instruction, character building lessons, and a very small teacher to student ratio. Both programs aim to help the campers and students grow up to be happy, healthy, and successful in whatever they do.

We’re half-way through the first week of the learning program, and we’re looking forward to the next four weeks! While many traditions remain from the first three years of YLP, this summer we have some amazing new opportunities for our students!

Location, Location, Location

This summer, the Yellowhammer Learning Program is held at Greensboro Elementary School. That means we’re on the same campus as Sawyerville Day Camp which solves all kinds of logistical hiccups. The YLP has its own building, affectionately known as “The Nest”, and it has been transformed into an engaging and inspirational learning environment.

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Third Grade Rock Stars

In years past, the YLP taught rising fifth- and sixth-graders. This year, we’ve shifted to serving rising third-grade students, because studies show that reading on grade level by third grade is crucially important. Up to third grade, students learn to read. After third grade, students read to learn. If students aren’t reading proficiently by the time they reach fourth grade, they are much more likely to get left behind and even drop out of school. Because we love the children in this community, we want to give them a boost at this pivotal moment in their education, a boost that could set them up for success for the rest of their lives. Next summer we’ll welcome back this same group of students as rising fourth-graders and bring in a new cohort of rising third-graders. That way, we’ll support students on either side of this important grade.

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Maker Space

In addition to teaching reading, math, science, and chess, we’ve also added a class called “Maker Space.” In this class, students take on engineering challenges like creating a maze for a marble, constructing the tallest Lego tower possible, or perfecting an origami bird. Tinkering with these projects gives students the opportunity to self-direct their own learning through trial and error and to work as a team to accomplish a common goal.

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Just Keep Swimming

Learning is not just for the classroom this year! On Mondays and Wednesdays, we travel to Judson College in Marion, AL and teach the students to swim. The YLP interns have been certified as lifeguards and trained to give swimming lessons. With this addition, our students are encouraged to learn in a broader sense, as we reach outside the classroom and expand the mindset and horizons of our third graders.

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Parent Nights

Although Parent Night has always been an awesome tradition for the YLP, we have changed locations this summer. Parent Night now takes place at the new Martin Stewart Community Center on the corner North and Whalen Street, next to Puddle Jumper Preschool. This open space, sponsored and created by HERO Housing is designed to share meals, hold larger groups, and bring the YLP community together. This year’s Parent Night programs will include financial literacy, reading as a family, and healthy cooking. Thank you to everyone who has or will provide dinner or teach a program! Special thanks to Beth Wilder for coordinating these events!

Are you following the YLP on social media? Make sure to “like” us so you can keep up with the students as they grow!

Facebook // Instagram // Twitter

Skill Sessions

Today, we close out Session 1 of SDC 2017! It is hard to believe that this session has come and gone so quickly. We will miss our staff and campers that can’t join us for later sessions, but we have lots to look forward to as the summer continues. Next week marks the start of the Yellowhammer Learning Program, and we cant’ wait to see how our rising third graders will learn and grow as they take part in specially designed math, chess, science, and reading curricula. Tonight is also our first Family Night of the summer, and we are so excited to welcome the loved ones of our campers for an evening of fun, food, and fellowship.

Session 1 looked a little different this summer than in the past, especially in Upper Camp. This summer, our Upper Campers had the opportunity to focus on certain activities in the afternoon in what we call Skill Sessions. We were so excited to introduce Skill Sessions this summer so that our older campers could really focus on and improve upon certain skills. They signed up for a specific Skill Session at the beginning of the week, choosing between basketball, volleyball, cheerleading, golf, and art. Taught by members of our staff and the community, Skill Sessions are a treat that change every session and remind us of an important lesson while also being a whole lot of fun. DSC_0747CSC_0706

At Sawyerville Day Camp, we know our campers are so uniquely gifted, and when those unique gifts are honed and cultivated, the world is better for it. As 1 Corinthians 12:12 reminds us, we are the body of Christ and we must function just like the human body, with each part carrying out it’s specific function, and carrying it out well. As our Upper Campers are transitioning to a new, more mature chapter of life, we hope that Skill Sessions reminded them how important their individual gifts and skills are. We hope the dedication to improving and cultivating their skills that they learned in Skill Sessions will stick with them as they continue to find new gifts and skills later in life. We hope that learning how to accurately shoot a basketball, or how to paint with acrylics, or how to properly hit a golf ball was not only fun, but also helped teach our Upper Campers that they can make a world of difference in their communities if they just learn to use their gifts. We hope that, above all else, they can go out into the world and help serve it as a hand or a foot or a heart of the body of Christ. Whatever body part they grow to be, we hope that Sawyerville Day Camp played some small role in that development.

First Day of Camp 2017

They’re here! They’re here! Today is the first day of Sawyerville Day Camp 2017, and the campers have arrived!

This morning, our staff of 109 high school students, college-age young people, and adults welcomed 250 campers ages 6-14.  So far, they’ve had breakfast, some are off to swim in Marion, and others are digging into the program.

Our program theme this summer is “Be Not Afraid.” Campers in Lower and Middler Camp will study the story of Jesus walking on water, the angel visiting Mary, Jesus calming the storm, and the great commission. Upper Campers will learn about how Jesus conquered fear, how prayer can make us brave, and how being fearless helps us to achieve our goals.

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Sure, this theme covers our t-shirts and the campers’ backpacks, and it makes for a great hashtag, but we also hope that during this week it will become a defining phrase in the lives of our campers. Fear wears many different hats, but we remind our campers that no matter the fear, they can find courage in God. This morning, as our Upper Campers dove into this theme, they wrote down their fears on their hands and on notecards. The fears ranged from spiders to getting into college, from heights to death. For a moment, the room was filled with all kinds of fears: written fears, spoken fears, and fears kept deep inside. Fear consumed the moment, but only briefly. Fear didn’t hold onto the hearts of our Upper Campers, because they literally washed their hands of it. They wrote down new things, like what gives them courage, and how they can display that courage this week. It’s only Day One of camp, and our campers are already fighting the battle against fear. We cannot wait see how they grow in courage and learn to walk through life fearlessly as they continue this programming throughout the week.

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We’re looking forward to the rest of Session 1! Be sure to follow us on social media to keep up with camp throughout the week.

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