MAD Camp Returns!
by Dale Reeves
MAD (Music, Art, and Drama) Camp took place at Christ’s Church in Mason during two weeks in July this summer. This wonderful ministry opportunity in our community has been going on for over fifteen years. Both last summer and this summer things looked a little different from years past, but this year we were so glad to have kids back in our building—even if we had to do it a little differently. We had nearly 250 campers and 60 volunteers in our building jump roping, making origami art, building Legos, bucket drumming, and much more! Of those 250 MAD campers, thirty of them said they do not attend a church. I surveyed several of our fantastic leaders this year so that you can get a better picture of the incredible impact that MAD Camp has on children and parents in our community.
Heather Medlar, the elementary ministry coordinator for CC Kids, has been on staff at Christ’s Church for four years. Her first year working in MAD Camp was 2015, when she worked alongside the leader of a huge choir class. Heather has a background in fine arts education, and has a passion for her children to participate in opportunities like MAD Camp. She explains some of the things that were different this year: “We offered two different weeks of camp, with each week consisting of three days of activities—Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. That way we could still have camp this year but offer one with more physical space and less kids in each session to help with our current situation. We were also able to keep some of the best elements of the camp like the Firecrackers Jump Rope team leading our jump rope class, as well as the Rembrandt Art Teacher teaching drawing. And, of course, we still enjoyed our favorite snack—graham crackers and homemade icing!”
Katie Pokopac leads the drawing class every year. She shares, “This year was extra special because I got to share my drawings from Creating JOY with the kids! It makes my heart happy to see them ‘shine’ with an overflow of JOY! Their smiles and pride in their accomplishments were priceless!” Katie continues, “Our theme verse for creating JOY is Matthew 5:16, ‘Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven!’ (NIV). I feel so blessed by this amazing opportunity!”
Sally Skerl has been a part of Christ’s Church with her family for nineteen years. She is a veteran when it comes to MAD Camp. She took off two years when her two boys were born, but has worked every other year besides those two—for a total of sixteen years! When asked about her motivation, Sally responds, “I love that we can have a community outreach that is different than the traditional Vacation Bible School. We get to love on kids and introduce them to Jesus in a way that they may have never seen before.”
Sally’s daughter, Morgan, a senior at Kings High School, has been connected to Christ’s Church for her whole life. She has served as a volunteer at MAD Camp for five years. Morgan says, “My passion is kids. Serving and helping them grow in their love for God in any way possible is one of my favorite things to do.” Morgan continues, “The best thing about MAD Camp is being able to build relationships with the kids as well as teaching them about God—while having fun doing it! It is my hope that MAD Camp helped reach out to families who don’t attend Christ’s Church, and that maybe they might start coming to one of our services every week as a result of their kids attending this camp.”
Discovering Talents, Discovering God
Amanda Pond is not a regular attender at Christ’s Church, but she has been volunteering for MAD Camp since 2016. She shares how she got connected with this ministry: “I started when my daughter was in the fifth grade, and the first class I assisted with was origami. The next year I was asked to lead, and I have been leading ever since. I love seeing all the kids and watching their faces light up when we have been folding something and it looks like nothing—then suddenly becomes what we are making. It reminds me how God often does things in our lives that don’t always make sense, but that’s only because we don’t envision the final product until it’s over—but he does!”
Amanda strives to find pieces for the kids to make that will give a level of success for all of them, while also being challenging. When asked what she thinks is the best thing about MAD Camp, she answers, “The kids, by far! I always have a few who really enjoy origami and will come back each day and show me what they worked on at home. I love seeing them find something they enjoy. I want them all to have fun, but most importantly, I want them to learn about God and his love.”
Meeting Friends, Meeting Jesus
Why does Christ’s Church invest the resources, and invite numerous volunteers to get involved in MAD Camp every summer? Heather answers, “We see this as a great opportunity for kids to meet up in the summer with friends from all over the community—classmates from school, neighbors, and teammates from sports. It’s a great way to bring our Mason community together and learn some new artistic skills at a reasonable cost.” Sally points out that over half the children who attend MAD Camp don’t attend our church on a regular basis. She says that this ministry provides a great opportunity for kids to express themselves in a creative way while getting to know Jesus. That’s why we do it.
Sally’s hope for the families of the children who attended one of the two camps this summer is that they would “see Jesus and perhaps be interested in starting to attend church and figure out who he is.”
Heather concludes, “I have already noticed some families have visited our church and family events after our camp this year. I hope they will continue to come and build a sense of community within our walls so that they can grow in their faith as a family and, ultimately, share their faith with others.”
Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children” (Matthew 19:14, NLT).