Volunteers prepare for children’s summer camp in June

Published 1:29 pm Thursday, May 29, 2014

5-30 Camp_web

Glenn Bonds, pastor at Providence Baptist Church No. 2, speaks to a group of counselors during a summer camp training session Wednesday at Raleigh’s Place in Clanton.

With the first session of Raleigh’s Place’s third annual summer camp starting Sunday, volunteers spent this week preparing to share the Christian gospel with dozens of children.

Raleigh’s Place children’s home near Lake Mitchell expects to host nearly 80 children—the most children ever to sign up—at its free camp this summer, according to camp director Mike King.

“I think our first summer, we had maybe 35 kids total,” King said. “Last summer, we had 50–60 kids total.”

The 2014 camp comprises three weeklong sessions for boys and girls in different age groups: elementary (ages 6–10), June 1–6; junior high (ages 11–13), June 8–13; and teen (ages 14–18), June 15–20.

Openings remain in the junior high boys group, as well as the teen group.

Anyone interested in signing up should contact King at (205) 217-0418 as soon as possible.

The camp is designed for local foster children, adoptive children who are or have been in foster care and children in relative placement homes.

King said many of the children that attend camp are referred by a social worker or the Department of Human Resources.

“Most of the kids are foster children,” King said. “That’s first and foremost where our ministry is.”

King said about 12 counselors and junior counselors will work at the camp.

“Many of them are close friends, or I knew them from school,” King said of the young adults he invited to work as counselors, adding that churches also refer students to him for counseling positions.

Counselors are tasked with leading groups of campers in Bible studies, recreational activities and other events throughout the week, while junior counselors perform maintenance-oriented jobs and provide extra support for counselors.

Training for counselors was held Tuesday–Friday.

Glenn Bonds, pastor at Providence Baptist Church No. 2, spoke to counselors during training Wednesday.

“You will be a witness to these campers,” Bonds said. “You want to be a positive impact on somebody. That’s what you’re doing right now, this morning, is working on being a witness.”

Bonds advised the group to remember that the children might be coping with issues at home and might look to the counselors for guidance.

“Because of the nature of this camp, they are having difficulties,” Bonds said. “These campers are going to gravitate to you guys. They’re going to tell you stories you may not want to hear, but that’s why you’re here.”

He encouraged the counselors not to let opportunities to share their faith with campers pass.

“Sharing Christ is natural for believers,” Bonds said. “Every camper that you encounter may not be ready to receive Jesus Christ. Your job is to be faithful and share the word with them.”

King said Kevin Corley with Grace Fellowship was slated to lead teaching and devotion training, and Billy Thornton, a professor at Southeastern Bible College, was to lead counseling training.

In addition to leisure activities including swimming, hiking, horseback riding and arts and crafts, campers will attend chapel and Bible studies daily.

Camp facilities include four cabins, two pavilions and an outdoor amphitheater.

The next project on the horizon is building a dining facility, King said.

“We’d love to have it for camp next summer,” he said.

King said his vision for the camp is to continue to build on previous sessions and “to invest in kids’ lives and hope the gospel changes their hearts, and they leave knowing there is hope in Christ.

King’s mother, Sharon, who co-owns Raleigh’s Place with her husband, said the ministry has received ongoing support from area churches and community members.

“God’s really blessed it,” Sharon King said. “We just keep going, and God just keeps providing.”