10 Jul WE’s 2nd Annual Migrant Summer Camp Is A Success
On Monday, June 6, 75 farm worker children entered the church at noon, in the middle of a rainstorm, to begin a first for WE–a summer camp for migrant children who need a safe haven from the migrant camps on St. Helena. This year, WE combined its farm worker outreach with the Port Royal YMCA to expose the children (ages 5 to 15) to a variety to field trips, educational speakers, swimming instruction, good food, and fun fellowship.
On a daily basis, church volunteers made hundreds of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, sliced apples, and opened cans of fruit cocktails for a daily average of 72 campers. On the third day of the camp, 92 children were in attendance. It quickly became obvious that we had to follow the YMCA’s suggestion that WE limited enrollment to 80 children. This speaks to the fact that there is a tremendous need in this community.
While the YMCA provided the paid staffing for the program, the success of the program would not have been possible without the WE congregation. They were willing to go into the uncharted waters of sponsoring a summer camp for migrant children. The camp was filled with children who were extremely excited to have good food to eat and a place where they could be free from the overcrowding and the hazards faced by most families who live in the migrant camps. This is an often overlooked population in need.
A typical day stated with lunch when they arrived. They loved the PB&J and especially loved “Moe’s days “. Moe’s generously provided several delicious lunches. It was followed by reading instruction and group games such as duck= duck goose, tag and endless soccer matches. The favorite field trip was the weekly swim at the YMCA. Many children passed the swim test which became a huge status for the kids. Many children loved experiencing the freedom of playing in the pool .
Other outings included bowling and visiting the St Helena Library with story time and computer instruction. Trips to the Port Royal Maritime Center and to the movies caused great excitement for the kids. Every day ended with a hot meal cooked by the fabulous ladies at the Penn Center. The children arrived home about 7pm just as some of their parents were coming home from the fields.
The dream for the Church to be service oriented came true this summer. However more importantly the dream for these kids to have full bellies, laughter and a sense of community came true for them, thanks to this congregation. WE was instrumental in giving these children some happy memories in a life often filled with sadness.