First Camp SPARK makes impact on children
Camp sparks creativity, enriches children
A brand new camp experience came to Cassville this summer -- Camp SPARK.
Sports and Arts for Kids, sparked by the ideas of staff members at First Baptist Church of Cassville, the camp was created to give local children the opportunity to create their own camp experience in the areas of sports, industrial arts, performing arts and creative arts, while still offering elements of traditional vacation Bible school.
"We haven't done traditional VBS for a number of years," said Jeff Alley,
recreation minister and adult education for First Baptist. "Instead of a traditional Bible school, this is what we offered for our kids, and they still received Bible stories and instruction.
"We averaged about 100 kids each day. We didn't know what to expect because this was the first time we'd done this. About 115 total signed up. It was an experience for kids to create their own camp experience and what they got to do was choose tracks they wanted to be a part of."
When children registered for the camp, they chose, in matter of preference, from a list of activities, including performing arts including singing, dance movement, rhythm instruments and sign language, sports clinics in basketball, baseball or martial arts, creative arts crafting activities in various mediums, woodworking and photography.
"For the most part, they got their first choice," Alley said. "They also got a full-sized Bible and T-shirt, and a Certificate of Accomplishment," Alley said. "[It] had words of encouragement each leader gave the kids that said things like, 'You showed teamwork, you worked really hard this week.' I think the kids had a great time."
The idea was the brainchild of church staff Alley, Jeanna Jones, children's ministry director, Jackie Hendrix, missions director, and Scott Stearns, music and drama minister.
"We are the four who designed it," Alley said.
On Thursday night, a family night event was held to invite families to see what the children had learned, view their artwork and creations, see performances, and enjoy hot dogs, ice cream and giveaways.
The children were also taught a verse for the week, 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 which states, "Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong, do everything in love."
During the week, a contest was held between the boys and the girls to collect money for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes, which sends shoeboxes oversees to children filled with Christmas gifts. The goal was to raise $500, and as of Thursday evening at the family night event, Alley announced that $330 had been raised. By the end of the next day, however, $1,157.43 was raised, far surpassing their goal. During the last day of camp, children enjoyed a movie and games.
The week-long event provided local families an inexpensive outlet to enrich childrens' lives and provide meaningful activities and entertainment in a positive environment, at a cost of only $25 per child.
"The bulk of the funding was the church budget," Alley said. "We had a family price of $25 for the first two, and $10 per child thereafter, and we scholarshipped some kids, but it didn't near cover our costs. But our church is very gracious when it comes to giving back."
"I think that everyone involved, kids, volunteers and parents, had a great time," Jones said. "And I think the camp is something that scratched an itch in our community. Some kids were hesitant at first, but their parents encouraged them, and they had a blast. And every child heard the gospel. My hope is that we reached several families for Christ."