Person2Person Youth Program Team

We are so excited to introduce the Youth Program Team for Person2Person 2021! This team  will lead a group of their peers in group discussions, nightly worship, prayer, and more! To learn more about them, keep reading below! 

Maleka Cox

School: Senior at Greensboro High School

Favorite Thanksgiving food: Candied Yams

How has Person2Person made a difference: Person2Person has made me look at life so differently! I remember being scared to make new friends, try new things, & even scared to talk about racial topics! But with the help of Sawyerville and the new friends I made, I overcame those obstacles and many more each day.

Mary Virginia Huffaker

School: Senior at Montgomery Academy

Favorite Thanksgiving Food: Green bean casserole! I could eat that all day! 

How has Person2Person made a difference: Person2Person has allowed me to discuss the topic of racism in Alabama with the different perspectives from around the State so that I can make more informed opinions and learn how to be more anti-racist. 

JaMya McCreary

School: Senior at Greensboro High School

Favorite Thanksgiving food: Dressing, Ham, and Candied Yams

How has Person2Person made a difference: Person2Person has made a difference in my life because it helped me see and learn racism a bit differently than how others used to look at it. It also has made a huge difference in my life because I get to explore and look at the things that have been going on before I was born. The museum that I attended while in Person2Person was really awesome! 

Stewart Miller

School:  Senior at Montgomery Academy 

Favorite Thanksgiving food: Either cornbread souffle or pecan pie

How has Person2Person made a difference: Person2Person has widened my horizons and allowed me to meet some incredible people. Person2Person has given me the unique opportunity to sit down and be vulnerable with others. The culture and atmosphere of Person2Person is extremely conducive to promoting healthy and productive dialog aimed at alleviating racial tensions within Alabama– something that is dearly needed now more than ever.  Without Person2Person, my worldview would not be nearly as broad as it is right now.

KaLynn Patterson

School: Senior at Greensboro High School

Favorite Thanksgiving food: Deviled Eggs or Baked Chicken

How has Person2Person made a difference:  Person2Person has made a difference in my life. Listening to responses from the brief conversations we’ve had in the past years moved me and made me want to have a change in my community!

Halyn Thomas

School: Senior at Greensboro High School 

Favorite Thanksgiving food: Macaroni and cheese

How has Person2Person made a difference: Person2Person has made a difference in my life by opening my eyes to many things that go on in my race and other ones as well. It also helped me expand my social circle by allowing me to meet other great minds. 

Aaron Wiggins

School: Junior at Greensboro High School

Favorite Thanksgiving food: Turkey and dressing with macaroni and cheese

How has Person2Person made a difference: Person 2 Person has made a difference in my life such as meeting different individuals, learning about race and visiting the different historical monuments. 

Thank you, Liza Lee!

Liza Lee Horton has been a friend of Sawyerville for many, many years. At the end of 2020, she will conclude her time as the Chair of the Junior Board, a group she founded. We are so thankful for her hard work, creativity, and dedication to this ministry! Read on to learn more about the creation of the Junior Board and Liza Lee’s dreams for the future of Sawyerville.

What was your first connection to Sawyerville?

My first connection to Sawyerville was serving on staff in high school. I was immediately hooked.

You created the Sawyerville Junior Board! How did you come up with the idea and how did you get it started?

I wanted to stay connected to Sawyerville once serving on summer staff was no longer a regular option once I graduated graduate school and got my first full-time gig. I knew there were others like me who wanted to stay involved at this age so I sat down with Claire and Crystal to brainstorm and the Sawyerville Junior Board was born.

What have you most enjoyed about serving as the Junior Board Chair? Will you miss anything about this role?

The best part of chairing the junior board has been watching many people join year after year. The future of this group is BRIGHT!

What are your wildest dreams for the Junior Board?

I hope one day that the Junior Board brings a meal to the full staff and raises a large amount annually.

What do you love about Sawyerville? What has kept you involved over the years?

I love how Sawyerville is a true community. Kids who come through camp come back and serve on staff along with youth from all over the diocese. You are never too old to be a part of this awesome community.

Youth Sunday Sermon by Caroline Ferry

Back in the spring, Caroline Ferry, a member of Christ Episcopal Church in Tuscaloosa and a veteran Sawyerville Summer Camp staff member, gave the sermon on Youth Sunday. In it, she talks about her experiences at Sawyerville. Enjoy!

Whenever I go to a new place and pass by an Episcopal church, I get so excited. The cemetery where Alexander Hamilton was buried, the historic Christ Church in Philadelphia that was attended by the Founding Fathers, the National Cathedral in D.C., or any other place marked by our shield. Even when I pass a car with the sticker, I imagine that we have some telepathic connection by being Episcopalian. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, I know that those churches are places where I can go and be welcomed. That’s what I love most about the church. The overwhelming understanding that all are welcome. The doors of an Episcopal church are always open, barring a global pandemic of course.

It’s hard to imagine what my life would have looked like if it hadn’t been spent with the church. So many of my defining moments, best friends, and favorite memories were made through this parish and the diocese. How would I have spent my summers if I wasn’t at Camp McDowell? What would I have done with all of those weekends if they weren’t spent at Happening and other diocesan retreats? What would I do during the hours spent at Sunday Eucharist, choir rehearsal, and EYC? I’m so grateful that I never had to find out. Thank you to everyone who has shown me how special this church is and what it means to follow Christ. To name a few, Father David, Reverend Catherine, Katherine Gould, and all of the youth ministers and interns, especially, Hannah, Logan, Kathleen, Jesse, Kennedy, and Mary Alison, who are all part of the reason I wanted to stay active in the church. Of course I am thankful for my parents who forced me to go to church on Sunday mornings and my siblings who have given me so many opportunities to practice patience. I’m most thankful for the parish as a whole; for being a constant in all of the craziness of life, even during times like this. I can only hope that I’ve been at least a fraction of the role model that people like Cammie and Mary Margaret were for me and that I am able to continue contributing to communities like this one in the future. No matter where I am, I want to create for others the same love and welcoming that I have grown up surrounded by. 

One ministry of the diocese in particular had a huge impact on my relationship with Jesus and God. Two summers ago, I spent a week at Sawyerville Day Camp as a counselor in lower camp. If you’re not sure what Sawyerville is, it’s a ministry of the diocese which aims to “ serve God, broaden the horizons of participants and staff, improve race relations in Alabama, and enrich the lives of those living in poverty.” One of their programs is Summer Camp, which offers three sessions in the summer for 6-13 year olds in Hale County. If I were ever assigned the task of explaining love to an extraterrestrial being, Sawyerville is where I would send them. Through all of the exhaustion and difficulties, God’s light shines brighter than ever there. From the biscuits in the cafeteria of Greensboro Elementary school to the bus taking us to the pool at Marion Military Academy and back. You spend one day there, and you just get it. 

One of my campers in particular impacted me in a way that I will never forget. He was only 7 years old, but throughout the week, he had been so angry. He went from not talking at all, to the rare, grunted response, despite all of my efforts to get to know him. I tried to play, dance, talk, and sing with him, and he seemed not only miserable, but like he hated me. But as every other counselor there does, I was persistent in trying to make sure he had fun. One day, I had to send him to the lower camp “co-co” for saying some non-lower-camp-friendly words to me (which is the equivalent of getting sent to the Principal’s office). I was sure that it was the final nail in the coffin of any chance I had at him liking me. As everyone was leaving family night, which is when all the campers come back with their families to hang out one last time, the kid came up to me while we were playing outside. I squatted down to talk to him, and before I knew it he had tackled me to the ground in a hug. He didn’t say anything, but he was crying a little as he gave me the first smile I had seen from him all week. After everyone left, the staff had our daily rest time. Laying on that classroom floor, half asleep and drooling onto my backpack-turned-pillow, I had never felt more alive. 

That moment was the purest love and joy I have ever experienced. When I forget what it means to love like Jesus or I’m stressed about one thing or another, all I have to do is think about that hug and I know everything will be okay. The gospel today talks about Jesus being our gatekeeper, or as he puts it, “ I come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” The only way to truly live is through him and by his love. But what does it mean to live? Jesus wanted us to do more than express our love to one another with words and hugs. His kind of love isn’t passive, so we too must be active. That’s part of why Sawyerville has been so powerful in my life and many others. It’s why when I came back the next year, that boy was smiling at me and excited for a week at camp. While it is centered around love, it’s also driven by purpose and passion. Making an impact on the lives of children, mending race relations, and reaching out to those in poverty are all acts of love, even if they can be difficult and harsh realities to face. It’s love in spite of and among the darkness. Love that’s active and fighting the good fight.  That message has been crucial to me in the past couple of years. There are lots of big decisions and changes happening. I have tried to be guided by the goal that whatever I am doing today or in 10 years, I want to be working hard, with love and passion. The task is full time, there’s no separating it from work or play. We all have different strengths and talents given to us, but God didn’t say that any of these things were excluded from love. In fact, using these gifts alongside love is where things really start to change. Taking shortcuts or trying to separate a career or education from the greater mission of loving others is like the thieves sneaking over the fence into the pasture. To achieve true life, we have to enter by the gate.

Thank you, Caroline, for sharing this with the Sawyerville community!

Camp-in-a-Box: Delivery Day

All 420 boxes and 940 grocery bags have been delivered! The school buses are back in the bus shop. The volunteers have all gone home. The dust has begun to settle on Summer 2020, and it was truly one-of-a-kind. So, it’s time to reflect.

Rewind to April: We started planning Camp-in-a-Box when it became clear that we would not be able to have camp as usual. The Department of Sawyerville created and approved the plan, and we decided to budget $100 per camper, devoting $50 for activities and $50 for food. We put out the call for donations, and the project was funded in just a few weeks!

Next, our summer interns created a plan so that each of our three age groups had their own box with Bible lessons, arts and crafts projects, and activities, all based on their age.

Meanwhile, Evelyn Pritchard, our Meals Coordinator of ten+ years, assembled her team of kitchen staff, and they created a list of groceries they knew parents would appreciate and kids would enjoy.

In the week prior to Delivery Day, the summer interns, kitchen staff, and several helpful volunteers gathered in Birmingham and Greensboro to tackle the daunting task of actually creating the boxes and grocery bags. Each box and bag was packed with love and care!

In general, boxes included art supplies (Crayons, markers, construction paper, scissors, glue stick, etc.), Play-Doh, a bead kit, Lego set, mini basketball goal or wind chime kit, and at least three books. Each camper also received a personalized letter written by a camp counselor and a letter of encouragement from a prayer partner in the diocese.

Campers were given two grocery bags packed with a canned ham, Vienna sausages, pinto beans, instant potatoes, gravy mix, spaghetti noodles, spaghetti sauce, loaf of bread, peanut butter, jelly, apple sauce, mandarin oranges, cereal, Pop-tarts, Cheez-its, Goldfish, white cheddar popcorn, vanilla wafers, and apple juice Capri Suns.

Delivery Day took place on Sunday, July 12th. We had four pick-up locations throughout Hale County: Greensboro, Sawyerville, Newbern, and Akron. Pick-up began at 2:00pm, and the torrential rains began around 2:15pm! The storm moved through the county and managed to reach every one of our pick-up locations. Despite the inclement weather, volunteers remained in high spirits and worked hard to distribute the boxes and bags.

I asked the summer interns to describe Delivery Day in one or two words. They said…

  • Good chaos
  • Worthwhile chaos
  • Overwhelming in a good way
  • Chaotically wonderful
  • Lovable frustration

Do you notice a theme in their responses? At Sawyerville, we’re used to our programs running like well-oiled machines! We’re proud of our 27 summers and all that we’ve learned over the years. This time, we had to start from scratch and try something completely new. Plenty of our perfectly laid plans did not come together the way we imagined, but in the end, everything worked out just fine. We hope that we never have another camp-in-a-box summer, but if we do, we’ll be ready!

The interns also said…

  • Loving
  • Awesome
  • Holy
  • Sensational
  • Heartwarming
  • Joyful
  • Rewarding

Despite the rain, social distancing, and logistical hiccups, it was still a perfect Sawyerville day. Those present felt connected, seen, and loved. Campers and counselors were reunited, and we hope that parents and family members felt supported and loved, too. The love of God was present and real.

We have truly missed Summer Camp and Summer Learning. Camp-in-a-Box Delivery Day was a reminder of all that we love about this ministry. It’s all for the kids!

Thank you over and over again to those who made Camp-in-a-Box possible:

  • the summer interns
  • the kitchen staff
  • the bus drivers
  • the Birmingham volunteers
  • the Greensboro volunteers
  • Evelyn and Ross Pritchard
  • All Saints’ Episcopal Church
  • St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
  • Newbern First Baptist Church
  • Lions Park
  • Akron Fire Station
  • Sawyerville Head Start Center
  • Amazon wish list providers
  • Camp-in-a-Box sponsors
  • the Department of Sawyerville

2020 Scholarship Recipients

We are proud to announce the 2020 Leslie Manning Scholarship Recipients! Congratulations, scholars!

Since we weren’t able to celebrate the Greensboro High School Class of 2020 at a graduation ceremony, we’d like to take this time to share a special congratulations with John Ford and De’Tyrick King!

Hakeem Bennett

Jacksonville State University

Regiana Fields

The University of West Alabama

Reginiqua Fields

Auburn University at Montgomery

John Ford

Alabama A&M University

Keonna Howard

The University of Alabama

De’Tyrick King

Shelton State Community College

Tatyana Lawson

Alabama A&M University

Jadrian Mitchell

Troy University

Deontae Patterson

Auburn University

Cha’Mari Webb

Lawson State Community College

Ka’Mari Webb

Stillman College

Michael Wiggins

Shelton State Community College

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 http://bit.ly/SSCStaff2020 to apply online and email Crystal Jones (crystal@sawyerville.org) 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! https://www.facebook.com/sawyervilleal/