A Word from Fran

For years and years, Fran McKendree has provided music at Sawyerville Summer Camp. He has written a reflection about his time at camp that he graciously offered to share here as well.

Over the past few years, summertime has become ‘camp season’ for me. I’m here to say that there is no better medicine for curing the weary-world blues than a summer spent hanging out and working with young people!

I begin with Sawyerville Summer Camp. Sawyerville serves children ages 6-13 in rural Alabama. At camp kids hear Bible stories, create artwork, make music, play sports, learn to swim, and enjoy breakfast, lunch, and snacks all at absolutely no cost. This year over six hundred campers were enrolled. It’s staffed by high school and college students from around the state who volunteer their time and resources to be a part of this amazing event. Dinner for the staff every night is prepared by volunteers. Every year there is a different theme, and I come up with a theme song for the week I’m with them. I can only skim the surface here, trying to describe how much being a part of this camp has changed my life.

Fran leading music with Lower Camp.

I work with the 6-8 year old group – if you could harness the energy, as they say… enough to power the entire state. What I love most about this camp is that the model really works – the kids who came as campers when they were 6 now serve on staff or as counselors. There is a loving regard for the camp within the towns nearby – you go into the Piggly Wiggly with a staff T shirt on and the checkout person gives you a hug, tells you how much she loved camp, and how her kids are loving every minute of it now.

Fran and other camp leaders participate in the daily staff cheer.

One of the most powerful moments for me over the years was when a little one came to me and said she’d written a song. I asked her if she’d sing it for me… the lyric was ‘A change is gonna come.’ She sang in a tender, hopeful voice. I asked her if she’d sing it for the whole camp if I played the guitar with her, she did and it was one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever been blessed to be a part of. Yes… a change is gonna come!!

To learn more about Fran and his music, visit his website. Fran also co-hosts AwakeningSoul, an uplifting, four-day event held annually in early November in Asheville, NC. This year’s speakers are Barbara Brown Taylor and Jacqui Lewis. Follow their newsletters for more information and reflections like Fran’s.

A Day at the Pool

“Last year I had to save Jamal two times, and today he jumped off the high dive! Today every single one of you made a difference.” -Gil Self (head lifeguard)

On Thursday at the pool Jamal decided it was time to jump off the diving board. He started off with the regular board and jumped to our head lifeguard Gil. When he got out of the pool Jamal started crying, we walked over to him and started asking what was wrong. He quickly told us that he wasn’t sad or hurt, but he was so happy that he finally jumped off the diving board. Then Jamal took on an even bigger challenge, he was going to jump off the high dive. He slowly climbed up the ladder and made his way to the end of the board and froze. He turned around and started walking back to the ladder, but his brother Jaylen wouldn’t let this happen. Jaylen was determined to watch his brother jump off the high dive. Everyone at the pool started chanting Jamal’s name and he walked back to the end of the board. Jaylen jumped in the deep end and waited with Gil for Jamal to jump. Finally Jamal bent his knees and jumped off the high dive to Gil, his brother, and his favorite counselor.

Use the link to visit our facebook page and see the video of Jamal jumping off the high dive! https://www.facebook.com/sawyervilleal/

Summer Learning Kindness Project

In Summer Learning, we have a morning rotation called Construction Zone. Contrary to what it seems to be, it is a character building class teaching the students how to work together and build character. 🙂

We interviewed the teacher of the class, Kat Oakes, about week 1’s word, Kindness and the kindness project the students were tasked with.

What was the kindness project? “One of my good friends takes her Kindergarten class out into the community to spread kindness and love, and she calls it the Kindness Project. Week 1’s word in Construction Zone was kindness so it was a perfect idea to bring to Summer Learning.”

What did each group do? “Group 1 gave out Kindness cookies to all the teachers and interns. Group 2 served breakfast to all the students. Group 3 gave goodie-bags to the lunchroom staff. Group 4 gave out candy bags to all the students and teachers. Group 5 gave out glow sticks to the students. Group 6 made a huge “Thank You” poster for the teachers and interns.”

What did the project teach the students? “It taught the students how to act kind. It also taught them how to be selfless and how sometimes, making someone else’s day better feels good to them too.”

Great job Kat!!

SCIENCE!

Thursday at SSL the 4th grade science class did some experiments showing how animals adapt to their environment using physical adaptations!

The first experiment used shortening to show how arctic animals use a layer of fat called blubber to keep their bodies warm in the harsh cold.

The second experiment showed how butterflies adapt to their environment to protect themselves from predators using Mimicry. The students drank 2 liquids that looked exactly the same representing the Viceroy and Monarch Butterflies.

Humans of Sawyerville

Summer camp is off to a great start, here’s what our campers have to say about the week so far!

“At Sawyerville, I learned not to call people names, to be nice and to share” -Aiden, lower camper

“If I had a million dollars to spend on Sawyerville, I would add toys for lower camp and computers” -Roderick, middler camper

“At Sawyerville, I learned that we have to take responsibility for what we do” -Allyssa, middler camper

“My favorite activity at Sawyerville is program, because we get to learn about God” -Jamal, upper camper

2019-2020 Leslie Manning Scholarship Recipients

We’re so proud of these scholars. Please join us in congratulating this year’s recipients of the Leslie Manning Scholarship!

Kyaja BatesIMG_1065

University of South Alabama


Chantell Bennett

Auburn University at Montgomery


Hakeem Bennett

Jacksonville State University


Regiana Fields

The University of West Alabama


Reginiqua Fields

Auburn University at Montgomery


Keonna Howard

The University of Alabama


Tatyana Lawson

 

Alabama A&M University


Deontae Patterson

Auburn University



Cha’Mari Webb

Lawson State Community College


Michael Wiggins

The University of Alabama

2019 Interns

Beginning May 13th, Sawyerville’s summer-long interns will start working from Carpenter House in Birmingham! This year’s team will spend two weeks in Birmingham, prepping for Summer Camp and Summer Learning. We’ll have an intern retreat in late May, and move to Greensboro on May 27th for the rest of the summer.

We are beyond thrilled to be working with this amazing group of young people! Look through the list below to meet our interns, learn a bit about them, and read their answers to the question, “If you had an endless supply of Legos, what would you build?” We bet you’ll be surprised by some of their answers!

Liam

Liam Ayres

Role: Camper Registrar

School: UAHuntsville

If you had an endless supply of Legos, what would you build: An Imperial Starfleet. I did it before when I was a kid.

Dream travel destination: A National Park I’ve never been to


Nick

Nick Belt

Role: Lower Camp Co-Coordinator

School: University of Alabama

If you had an endless supply of Legos, what would you build: a cool house on the beach

Dream travel destination: Jamaica


Laura

Laura Doody

Role: Middler Camp Co-Coordinator

School: University of Alabama

If you had an endless supply of Legos, what would you build: a restaurant with lots of food

Dream travel destination: Spain


MaryStewart

Mary Stewart Drummond

Role: Summer Camp Communications Assistant

School: University of Alabama

If you had an endless supply of Legos, what would you build: a really cool house in Montana

Dream travel destination: Thailand


Thomas Goldsmith

Role: Middler Camp Co-Coordinator

School: Birmingham-Southern College

If you had an endless supply of Legos, what would you build: a truck

Dream travel destination: the moon


Tiara Harris

Role: Camper Registrar

School: University of West Alabama

If you had an endless supply of Legos, what would you build: a car that runs off of legos for gas

Dream travel destination: Africa


Emily Hooker

Role: Staff Registrar

School: University of Alabama

If you had an endless supply of Legos, what would you build: Sawyerville’s very own space to use all year round

Dream travel destination: Australia


Garrison Lackey

Role: Meals and Supplies Assistant

School: Auburn University

If you had an endless supply of Legos, what would you build: a statue of Bruce Pearl

Dream travel destination: As Nicki Minaj once said, “let’s go to the beach.”


Lila Meadows

Role: Summer Learning Communications Assistant

School: Auburn University

If you had an endless supply of Legos, what would you build: the tallest tower of legos ever built by the human hand

Dream travel destination: Greece


Nancy Kate Nicrosi

Role: Student Registrar

School: Auburn University

If you had an endless supply of Legos, what would you build: an ATM

Dream travel destination: Ireland


Abby Poole

Role: Upper Camp Co-Coordinator

School: Auburn University

If you had an endless supply of Legos, what would you build: a really beautiful house for myself

Dream travel destination: Switzerland


Gil Self

Role: Head Lifeguard and Office Assistant

School: University of Alabama

If you had an endless supply of Legos, what would you build: a LEGOLAND for the campers

Dream travel destination: the Great Barrier Reef


Lucy Smith

Role: Lower Camp Co-Coordinator

School: Sewanee: the University of the South

If you had an endless supply of Legos, what would you build: an underwater tunnel between continents—clear Legos only, obviously

Dream travel destination: Morocco


Jordan Smith

Role: Upper Camp Co-Coordinator

School: University of Alabama

If you had an endless supply of Legos, what would you build: legs, to make me 7 foot for a week

Dream travel destination: the Bahamas