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.
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.
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.