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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

Work Ready Workshop

What was your very first job? Maybe you babysat or mowed lawns. Maybe you worked at a fast food restaurant or a movie theater. Whatever it was, you should be proud of it! Getting your first job can be a tricky process. That’s why Sawyerville Day Camp hosted our first ever Work Ready Workshop.

On Saturday, March 11th, students from Greensboro High School who have either served on staff or attended camp as a camper, joined us for a full day devoted to learning how to apply for a job, succeed in an interview, and even get promoted.

Click here to see a short video about the Work Ready Workshop

Tracie Bates from the Tuscaloosa Career Center shared the do’s and don’ts of filling out an application and dressing for the part. She also brought applications from dozens of local employers and invited the students to write their own pocket resumes.

Thomas Goldsmith, Director of Admissions at the Altamont School, talked about the importance of a good first impression, how the little things like a strong handshake and sitting up straight can really add up in your favor.

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Patrick George, the Career Coach at Greensboro High School, offered tips on how to impress employers in an interview and how to answer that not-so-simple question, “Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?”

Finally, Charlie Stevens, from Thompson Tractor, concluded the program with advice on how to be a great employee, one who gets promoted. He talked to the students about the importance of being responsible and taking initiative.

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The students left the workshop with a certificate that states they have successfully completed the Sawyerville Day Camp Work Ready Program and have earned the distinction “Certified Work Ready.” They’re off to do great things!

100% of participants said that the workshop was “very helpful” and that they would recommend the workshop to a friend. One student said the most important thing she learned was “to be engaged, ask questions, and to be calm” in an interview.

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This event was made possible by lots and lots of wonderful and generous volunteers! Besides all the amazing speakers, several people from different business backgrounds sat alongside the students and answered their questions and helped them create their pocket resumes. Volunteers from St. Mary’s on-the-Highland’s, Birmingham, and St. Paul’s, Greensboro provided breakfast, lunch, and a snack for all participants. Others donated ties for the male students to take with them. This was truly a community effort, and we’re so thankful for everyone’s support!

We’re especially grateful to the Work Ready Workshop’s planning committee – Kay Donnellan, chair, Liz Edwards, Lisa Miller, and Charlie Stevens. Thank you for your dedication and creativity!

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Click here to see a short video about the Work Ready Workshop

Person 2 Person 2017

This past weekend was the inaugural Person 2 Person, a three-day event in Montgomery where Sawyerville Day Camp staff talked about race. One of Sawyerville Day Camp’s goals is to help improve race relations in Alabama; this event did just that.

Over the course of the weekend, the group traveled to the Rosa Parks Museum, the Equal Justice Initiative, and the Freedom Rides Museum, and worshipped at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was once the pastor. Outside of the field trips, we talked about the difference between stereotyping, discrimination, and racism; unpacked privilege and internalized oppression; told stories of times when we experienced or witnessed discrimination; and learned about the current situation in Standing Rock, ND and how indigenous people have been oppressed in the past. Together, we had deep conversations, revisited history, prayed, and dreamed.

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Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church

During worship on Saturday night, the group took some time to reflect on Dr. King’s dream as well as our own. Here are some of the responses:

What’s your dream for Alabama?

  • To take responsibility for our past and intentionally work together towards a more open, loving, and accepting state.
  • To openly talk about our past and work towards a more inclusive future.
  • For Alabama to become a place known for how well we welcome strangers and how gracefully we admit our wrongdoings and change our ways.

What’s your dream for your hometown?

  • Racially and economically diverse school systems so that every student has equal opportunities.
  • To understand our privilege and learn how we can eliminate that privilege by empowering other communities in our state.
  • More diverse political beliefs, increased open-mindedness, progress in racial issues and others.

What’s your dream for Sawyerville Day Camp?

  • A permanent facility/institution that can continue to educate, help, and grow both staff and campers.
  • Our own space, integration, and continue spreading love amongst each other and the Black Belt community.
  • A permanent facility and more diverse staff. More intentional race-based discussions.
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Dreaming at St. John’s Episcopal Church

This group had a great conversation about ways to make the staff community at camp even more inclusive. We’re looking forward to putting their ideas into action this summer.

If you weren’t able to participate in Person 2 Person this year, don’t worry, the event will happen again next year. Go ahead and mark your calendar for MLK weekend!

We’re so thankful to all of the people and groups who helped make Person 2 Person possible! Thank you to:

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To see more photos by Allison Kendrick, check out the Facebook album.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’

– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.