Top 10 Reasons to Staff Summer Camp

Today is the last day to apply to serve on staff at Summer Camp 2020! We’ve gathered the Top 10 Reasons to Staff to encourage anyone on the fence to take the leap and apply now.

10. Serving God while laughing, swimming, and singing.

9. Singing the moose song at the top of your lungs.

8. Taking on the upper campers in the annual basketball tournament.

7. Making new connections with people from all around the state.

6. Having a week-long slumber party with all your friends.

5. Feeling the wind on your face on the bus ride back from the pool.

4. Enjoying chicken biscuit day, chicken finger/mac and cheese day, and catfish day.

3. Getting to know each of your campers individually. It’s all for the kids!

2. Teaching your campers to swim across the pool.

1. Learning new things about yourself, your neighbors, and God.

Visit to apply online and email Crystal Jones ( with any questions. See you this summer!

Handy Resources for COVID-19

Friends, we hope you are feeling well and that you are staying inside with close family and friends. We’d like to share a few things that might be helpful to you and the children in your life.

For adults:

For kids:

We are currently planning to host Sawyerville Summer Camp and Summer Learning as scheduled. We will let you know through our website and social media if this changes. In the meantime, please join us in prayer.

A Prayer for Loved Ones from the Book of Common Prayer

2020 Summer-Long Staff

We are excited to introduce the 2020 summer-long staff! Keep reading to learn more about the Summer Camp interns, Summer Learning interns, and lifeguards!

Hakeem Bennett

Role: Lower Camp Co-Coordinator

Hometown: Greensboro, AL

Favorite Halloween costume: Spider Man

Looking forward to: I am looking forward to first being back actively interacted with camp. I know a lot of campers may have missed me last year but now that I will be able to be there all summer is something I will enjoy. I also am looking forward to just growing and being better than I am now. I know whats its like to deal with camp from a spectators perspective but now I actually can put my input or start to showcase my skills now.

Cameron Bowley

Role: Photographer

Hometown: Gadsden, AL

Favorite Halloween costume: Scooby Doo

Looking forward to: Getting to go around to every camp and interact with all the kids!!

Lucy Cat Byrne

Role: Summer Learning Activities Coordinator

Hometown: Birmingham, AL

Favorite Halloween costume: Thing 1

Looking forward to: I’m looking forward to meeting all the new Summer Learning students and help them love to learn while making this the best summer ever!

Ella Cobbs

Role: Lower Camp Co-Coordinator

Hometown: Birmingham, AL

Favorite Halloween costume: tomato

Looking forward to: I cannot wait to be back with all the kids and get to hang out with new campers I haven’t met before. I am also so so excited to be back with a group of people who all care so much about Sawyerville and having the best summer possible!!

Carrie Dennis

Role: Communications Assistant

Hometown: Selma, AL

Favorite Halloween costume: Hannah Montana

Looking forward to: I am so excited to help promote Sawyerville, and show the world why we love camp! 🙂

Walker Ferry

Role: Head Lifeguard

Hometown: Tuscaloosa, AL

Favorite Halloween costume: Tootsie Pop Owl

Looking forward to: Finally being able to work at Sawyerville for the first time!

Thomas Goldsmith

Role: Middler Camp Co-Coordinator

Hometown: Gadsden, AL

Favorite halloween costume: Cowboy

Looking forward to: Getting to worship work and play

Claire Kimberlin

Role: Upper Camp Co-Coordinator

Hometown: Birmingham, AL

Favorite Halloween costume: Martha Washington

Looking forward to: Working with the other interns and staff to make it the best summer ever for the kids! I’m also excited to help make upper camp the most elite that it has ever been.

Abby Lowe

Role: Lifeguard

Hometown: Birmingham, AL

Favorite Halloween costume: Sam from iCarly

Looking forward to: I am so excited to spend this summer working for such a great cause. I can’t wait to make an impact on the children’s lives and hopefully help teach some to swim! I also want to strengthen my relationship with campers and staff members I already know. I am so excited to be at Sawyerville this summer!

Ava Claire Mattox

Role: Middler Camp Co-Coordinator

Hometown: Wetumpka, AL

Favorite Halloween costume: zombie prom queen

Looking forward to: I am looking forward to seeing smiling faces, the different bonds formed, stories made, and love shared.

Deontae Patterson

Role: Camper Registrar

Hometown: Greensboro, AL

Favorite Halloween costume: ghost

Looking forward to: Being able to experience camp from behind the scenes

Anna Shaddix

Role: Staff Registrar

Hometown: Pell City, AL

Favorite Halloween costume: Cowgirl

Looking forward to: I am thrilled to work with the high school staff and the interns to make this summer amazing for the best campers ever!

McCauley Smith

Role: Lifeguard

Hometown: Decatur, AL

Favorite Halloween costume: pumpkin

Looking forward to: I am really excited about being an intern and spending my summer with the best summer long staff! I am also excited about getting to teach the kids to swim and to improve their swimming skills.

Winston Smith

Role: Upper Camp Co-Coordinator

Hometown: Birmingham, AL

Favorite halloween costume: Buzz Lightyear

Looking forward to: I am so pumped for this summer because of the opportunity to work with the kids and the other people on staff. There is no better situation to be immersed in for a summer where you get to be around so many outstanding individuals.

Lucy Walthall

Role: Meals Assistant

Hometown: Birmingham, AL

Favorite Halloween costume: Miley Cyrus

Looking forward to: I’m looking forward to experience camp in a different way and do a bigger part

Ann Mosely Whitsett

Role: Programs Assistant

Hometown: Birmingham, AL

Favorite Halloween costume: Scooby Doo

Looking forward to: I am excited to get to pour into the staff and campers as we learn and grow together throughout the summer. Can’t wait to laugh, love, and worship under the heat of the Alabama sun!

Evie Whitsett

Role: Camper Registrar

Hometown: Birmingham, AL

Favorite Halloween costume: fire

Looking forward to: I am so excited to see campers old and new and show them how much they are loved!

Virginia Williams

Role: Summer Learning Student Registrar

Hometown: Birmingham, AL

Favorite Halloween costume: Hermione Granger

Looking forward to: I’m looking forward to seeing SSL students progress in their learning and recognize how empowering and fun education (especially in the summer) can be!

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!

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!!


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.