YLP is the place to be!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Facebook // Instagram // Twitter // Snapchat – sawyervillecamp

Let’s get it started

It’s time to get camp, y’all!

Greensboro Elementary is bustling with activity and energy because this week marks the beginning of Sawyerville 2017! Our Session 1 coordinators arrived last night, and the rest of staff arrived this morning. We’ve been busy training staff and preparing for camp to start Monday. Session 1 is bringing some familiar staff faces, as well as some new faces, and we are so expectant for how the Lord will empower our staff and move in our campers.

It has been non-stop action since the coordinators arrived last night. There have been tours, meetings, laughs, games, organization, meals, and plenty more. There is still lots to do to prepare for camp Monday, but there are more than enough helping hands to get the jobs done, and for that we are thankful.


DSC_3747The morning started with staff registration, a time filled with dancing, hugs, and matching t-shirts that was quickly followed by an intense game of Duck-Duck-Goose. After that, it was on to tours, meetings, and preparation. Our new staffers took a tour of Greensboro and learned more about the town and camp while our veteran staffers helped prepare for camper registration later this afternoon.


DSC_3865The first camper registration is especially exciting because it is the first time all summer we get to see any of our campers. The gym at GES was full of reuniting campers and counselors. There were plenty of hugs and high fives to go around, and it was so sweet to see that the campers are just as excited for camp as we are.

As all the organized chaos that goes with preparing for the beginning of camp surrounds us, we feel especially thankful for all the support Sawyerville receives. To all the staff and coordinators that take time out of their summer and leave behind jobs and family, thank you for pouring in to the kids and in to each other. To all those individuals and parishes that donated swimsuits, books, towels, and more, thank you for putting a smile on a child’s face. To those who support us in prayer or any other capacity, thank you for covering us with love. We are so grateful that you feel called into this ministry with us, and we cannot thank you enough.


Before the storm (and in the middle of it)

Written by Katie Timmons, SDC Intern

For a few days, the lights were off and the office was quiet. Our team took a few days to attend a retreat together, where we got to know one another better, clarify goals for camp, and just have some good old fashioned fun. Thanks to the hospitality of Reverend Polk Van Zandt and his wife Mary Jo, who let us stay in their beautiful home, we spent the last two and half days in Sewanee, Tennessee. Sewanee was full of lots of things. Trees, for one, something we don’t see much of from our office windows in downtown Birmingham. Laughs, as we watched silly movies, told funny stories over lunch, and played team building games that were just as hilarious as they were unifying. Learning, as we became more familiar with our roles at camp and with each other as people rather than simply coworkers. And rain, which was fairly unexpected.

When I looked at my handy dandy weather app before leaving for Sewanee, it looked like it was going to be a beautiful few days. Lots of sun, mild temperatures, and no rain until we were already back in Birmingham. Either the handy dandy app lied to me, or God just decided Sewanee was a little too dry. And while it might have made for some muddy shoes and some frizzy hair, I am actually quite glad it rained.

You see, I’m a new intern. Not only that, but I am new to Sawyerville entirely.  I’ve never been to camp before. Besides the answers to the (probably excessive) questions I have asked and the various descriptions I have read about camp and my job, I really know nothing. It’s quite honestly a little scary, just like a big thunder storm can be.

So, when it stormed in Sewanee, it resonated with me more than weather usually does. Right now is the storm. Today is our last day in the office before we move supplies and ourselves down to Greensboro. I see anxious faces in the workplace as my fellow interns work hard to make sure all of their tasks are completed and completed well. It feels as if there is surely not enough time to get everything done. Even as things get crossed off the to-do list, new things get added. The little knot in the bottom of my stomach reminds me of my own anxiety as I am about to jump headfirst into something completely new. It’s like the beginning of a thunder storm, when you aren’t sure how long it will last, how wild it might get, or how much rain will actually fall.

But even in the midst of a stormy day, there can be sunshine. And when that happens, you get a rainbow. Sewanee showed me that, literally and figuratively. retreat rainbow

See, rainbows are rare. Everyone thinks that if it is raining and the sun is also shining, there should be a rainbow, but that just isn’t the case. The conditions have to be perfect. The sun has to be shining at the perfect angle so as to intersect with the water droplets as they fall at their own specific angle. The rain droplets have to be the right size, and the amount of sun and rain must be in the perfect ratio so that one does not overthrow the other entirely. That’s why rainbows are so beautiful and so magical, because the conditions must be crafted with a divine hand or else they can’t happen.

Sawyerville Day Camp will be a rainbow this summer.  I’ve never been, but I am as sure of this as I am of my own name. It is going to rain. Life happens, and no app can predict it. We can plan and look ahead as much as we want, but there will be both literal and figurative rain this summer. But, there will also be so much sunshine. Every smile on a child’s face, every relationship built, every step made towards Jesus will be a ray of sunshine. When that sunshine intersects that rain, there will be rainbows. The Lord is so faithful, and I know His hand will create rainbow conditions all summer long.

Preparing for camp is it’s own storm, and we are in the middle of that right now. Today, I’m able to see all the little rainbows that go along with that storm. My fellow interns are sunshine when my anxiety is rain. Generous donors are sunshine when long to-do lists are rain. Camp is sure to be a different storm entirely, with some rain, some sunshine, and hundreds and hundreds of rainbows of its own. Thanks to our time in Sewanee and God’s constant reminders of His presence in all situations, I can now look forward to those rainbows instead of fearing that rain.


The interns are coming!

While Paul Revere might not have announced their arrival, and while they have actually been here for a almost a week, we are so excited to have our interns in the office hard at work! The second floor of Carpenter House is a little more crowded and noisy than usual, but there is so much work getting done. Paperwork is being shuffled, computers are whirring as furious fingers type away, and everything from plans to supplies are being organized and categorized.

Each of our seventeen interns has been diligently checking things off of their to-do lists and crossing days off of their calendars. Our registrar team is hard at work making sure all of our campers and students are properly registered for camp, as well as insuring our staff is ready to go. Our teams of camp coordinators are designing schedules, plans for rainy days, and activities for each session. Our meals and supplies assistants are taking careful inventory of everything from snacks to pool towels, and noting what else we might need. Our other YLP interns are, in addition to their own jobs of planning field trips and chess lessons, putting together curriculum for our students. And the communications team has been busy keeping you up to date on all of it. In short, the office is a frenzy of activity, which we know means this year will be the best yet at Sawyerville Day Camp and the Yellowhammer Learning Program.

In the midst of crossing things off these to-do lists, our interns have also been meeting some new faces. On Monday, the whole group met the staff of Carpenter House over lunch (thank you, Carpenter House staff, it was delicious!) The Right Reverend Kee Sloan even made sure we celebrated the birthdays of our interns Robert and Faith with the rest of the May-birthday staff. Then on Thursday, we all introduced ourselves to the Diocesan Council, and showed them just how excited we are for Sawyerville this summer. How lucky are we to serve in ministry for such a gracious and generous diocese? “Very” is the answer.

YLP interns

Even outside of the physical walls of Carpenter House, things are happening to make Sawyerville a success. All day on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, parishes across the state and other organizations have been dropping off supply donations at St. Stephen’s Episcopal in Birmingham. Our interns have taken shifts manning the drop off and collecting and packing the supplies up so that next Friday, we can move them all down to Greensboro! We have collected boxes upon boxes of swimsuits, towels, books, snacks, shirts, and so much more. We are truly blown away by the generosity shown to Sawyerville, because without it, camp would not be the same!

supply interns

As you can see, it has been a busy week. Our interns walked in the door Monday morning at 8:30, and then we blinked! It is crazy to think a week has already gone by, but that means we are one week closer to the start of camp, and that is something to be happy about. We are all looking forward to a weekend of relaxation, followed by an intern retreat in Sewanee full of bonding, work, and good food at the beginning of next week. Before we know it, we will be moving to Greensboro and camp will be in full swing!

Now’s a great time to double check that you’re following us on social media – you don’t want to miss a thing.

SDC Facebook // SDC Instagram // SDC Twitter

YLP Facebook // YLP Instagram // YLP Twitter


Introducing the 2017 Interns!

This summer, seventeen young people will take on big responsibilities at both Sawyerville Day Camp and the Yellowhammer Learning Program. These interns will do everything from plan field trips and teach chess to serve meals and register campers.

We can’t wait to welcome this crew in May! Continue reading for fun facts about our interns like who wanted to be Dr. Phil when they grew up and who dreams of being an Olympic curler!

Processed with VSCO with a5 presetAdelaide Cochran

Lower Camp Co-Coordinator

Hometown: Birmingham, AL

School: Wake Forest University

Olympic sport of choice: Curling

Childhood ambition: Zookeeper

Looking forward to: The kids and hot pockets.

IMG_0110Anna Klopack

YLP Field Trip and Supplies Coordinator

Hometown: Birmingham, AL

School: Auburn University

Olympic sport of choice: Trampolining

Childhood Ambition: Art therapist

Looking forward to: Fighting summer learning loss in the sweet Greensboro heat!

Processed with VSCO with a5 presetAnne Douglass Williams

Middler Camp Co-Coordinator

Hometown: Birmingham, AL

School: University of Alabama

Olympic sport of choice: Swimming

Childhood ambition: Veterinarian

Looking forward to: Witnessing the miracles God has in store for us this summer.

11245814_938856886171686_1013673358457816366_oBreanna Mitchell

Upper Camp Co-Coordinator

Hometown: Hollywood, AL

School: University of Alabama

Olympic sport of choice: Track and field

Childhood ambition: Doctor

Looking forward to: Being a part of a growing ministry that is changing the lives of many children every year!

CarolineMauldinCaroline Mauldin

SDC Camper Registrar

Hometown: Alpharetta, GA

School: University of Alabama

Olympic sport of choice: Basketball

Childhood ambition: Veterinarian

Looking forward to: Getting to know both the campers and the staff as well as getting the opportunity to be a part of the ministry and camp!

DuncanManleyDuncan Manley

Middler Camp Co-Coordinator

Hometown: Birmingham, AL

School: Washington and Lee University

Olympic sport of choice: Bobsledding

Childhood ambition: Astronaut

Looking forward to: Reuniting with former campers and making memories with new ones

IMG_0081Ella O’Neill

SDC Staff Registrar

Hometown: Birmingham, AL

School: Auburn University

Olympic sport of choice: Skiing

Childhood ambition: A mom

Looking forward to: Mornings at camp, with coffee, camp cheers, and fresh faced campers ready to soak up the beauty of God’s creation.

IMG_1665Emily Hooker

SDC Staff Registrar

Hometown: Birmingham, AL

School: University of Alabama

Olympic sport of choice: Table tennis

Childhood ambition: Veterinarian

Looking forward to: Seeing all my favorite people again and spending the summer in my fav place, also hot pockets.

2406DEA5-56CF-46D4-B715-12DF273F56DAFaith Bryant

SDC Camper Registrar

Hometown: Sawyerville, AL

School: Alabama A&M University

Olympic sport of choice: Volleyball

Childhood ambition: Registered nurse

Looking forward to: Meeting new faces and seeing all of the smiles and happiness from each camper.

13692810_1268415146526821_3931299144119143043_o-e1488848840734.jpgKathryn Oakes

YLP Chess Teacher

Hometown: Birmingham, AL

School: University of Alabama

Olympic sport of choice: Figure skating

Childhood ambition: Jewelry maker

Looking forward to: Being a part of this super cool ministry and getting the sweet kiddos excited about learning!

img_0150.jpgKatie Timmons

SDC Communications Assistant

Hometown: Fishers, IN

School: University of Alabama

Olympic sport of choice: Gymnastics

Childhood ambition: Veterinarian

Looking forward to: I can’t wait to work with the campers and see them grow in their faith and love for our sweet Jesus.

IMG_6477Margaret Doody

Upper Camp Co-Coordinator 

Hometown: Birmingham, AL

School: University of Georgia

Olympic sport of choice: Snowboarding

Childhood ambition: Fashion designer

Looking forward to: Making relationships with staff and campers and being there for these sweet kids all summer!

Meredith 2Meredith Stringfellow

YLP Communications Assistant

Hometown: Birmingham, AL

School: Texas Christian University

Olympic sport of choice: Soccer

Childhood ambition: Fire fighter

Looking forward to: Getting to see and work with YLP for the first time!!

img_3191.jpgOlivia Chew

SDC Meals and Supplies Assistant

Hometown: Birmingham, AL

School: Auburn University

Olympic sport of choice: Race walking

Childhood ambition: Astronaut

Looking forward to: Everything! I can’t wait to witness the power of God in this community and the unconditional love this ministry has to offer. I am also looking forward to being a part of this staff and to see my old campers and meet new ones.

FB_IMG_1471062194714Robert Hunter

Lower Camp Co-Coordinator

Hometown: Greensboro, AL

School: Shelton State

Olympic sport of choice: Volleyball

Childhood ambition: Doctor

Looking forward to: Having fun with the campers and staff to help make SDC 2017 an everlasting memory.

FullSizeRenderTy’Nedra Edwards

YLP Student Registrar

Hometown: Greensboro, AL

School: University of South Alabama

Olympic sport of choice: Track and field – shot put or the 100m

Childhood ambition: Relationship psychotherapist- a female version of Dr. Phil

Looking forward to: Working with YLP for the first time, getting to see the campers, and, of course, hanging with this elite team.

VirginiaThorntonVirginia Thornton

YLP Meals Assistant

Hometown: Decatur, AL

School: University of Richmond

Olympic sport of choice: Badminton

Childhood ambition: Doctor

Looking forward to: Campers!!!, staff cheer, Greensboro, pie lab, catfish sandwiches