Thursday, July 8, 2010

Camp- Days 7 and 8

We awoke to a very messy rain on Tuesday morning-- the day of our planned all-day field trip, including a picnic! However, we are very blessed with campers determined not to let a little rain stop their fun and counselors willing to help make everything run smoothly no matter what, and we ended up having a great day. The kids really enjoyed the morning's planetarium show-- a new experience for most of them. Each group spent time listening to stories in the library while the other half of the campers had their turn in the planetarium, and both group's behavior during this wait was excellent. We were so proud!
We found a park with picnic shelters, and the skies cleared enough to make for a pleasant, if cloudy, lunch. The junior counselors did a great job of serving Ms. Judy's delicious sandwiches. The afternoon's outing to the skating rink was a great success as always. My favorite part is watching not only the counselors, but even many of the older campers take turns helping the younger kids skate around the rink.
On Wednesday, we took turns visiting the Museum of Art in City Park. We started with the Amistad exhibit of African- American artists, but the kids also enjoyed seeing Native American art and some amazing glassworks as well. We then had time for a quick walk around the lagoon-- lots of ducks to watch and a few trees to climb.
Back at camp, the kids learned about the value of friends in helping you stand up for the right thing. After an experiment with jello (which the kids found is not very good at standing strong), they started working on their friendship bracelets. In Journeys, we began our study of the Civil Rights Movement. They painted their clay suns in art. One of the most exciting parts of the day for each camper was finding out their part in the drama program. It's one week away!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Camp- Day 6

We have enough adult volunteers this week to add a daily sports session. The kids practiced their yoga, did some ball-handling relays with the basketballs, and enjoyed some extra time on the playground. Our wonderful junior counselors spent time in the morning cutting out hundreds of circles for the beautiful pastel planet art pieces the campers made. In Journeys, the older campers graphed constellations onto poster boards that will later be outlined with Christmas lights, and the younger kids played a version of Simon Says to learn the difference between rotating and revolving- at least until we all were too dizzy to play anymore. The sun finally stayed out long enough for us to cook s'mores in our solar ovens. Delicious!!! Jenny taught about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and their dedication to God and His ways. The kids decorated dog tags to show that they too belong to God. The older campers made progress on learning their dance to "Hot! Hot! Hot!" and the younger kids are working on their "Lion Sleeps Tonight" song.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Camp- Days 4 and 5

Highlights of Thursday and Friday

More Yoga/ Dance-- A huge hit with all the kids
Nine on Nine Basketball-- Organized and refereed by the boys themselves. There were so many kids playing that passing and dribbling were not even necessary.
Edible solar systems-- Lifesaver ring Saturns, pixie-stix sugar asteroids, and red hot red spots on marshmallow Jupiters
Charcoal Still-lifes-- A surprising hit with the campers
Scrabble Tile Pendants-- Illustrating the talents that God has given each of our children
An almost-perfected finale in drama
Taco Pie for lunch and birthday cake for dessert!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Camp- Day 3

Day 3 highlights were a series of physical challenges, Mondrian paintings, card and board games, and yet another power outage. The younger campers went to Theo's Pizza--the walk-in refrigerator and giant ovens and mixers were a big hit, as was the pizza made by the kids! The older kids went to Whole Foods for a tour with the amazing Ms. Amina, lots of delicious samples, and a couple of slices of pizza.

It was the kind of day that gives us a whole new appreciation for our adult volunteers who are so generous with their time. One of our camper's mothers rescued us from the pizza place when it appeared our planned walk back to church would turn into a swim thanks to Tropical Storm Alex. Dana drove back and forth three times to help get everyone get back to the church. The campers stayed dry, but she ended up soaked. Daphne, our incredible camp costumer and the mother of one of our counselors, cooked for the third day in a row. She then had to serve the meal in the dark as the power went out shortly before lunch began. It all went off without a hitch. Daphne's older daughter Dessiree, a former camper and counselor, also spent the day helping us out. Imelda, the mother of two of our campers, helped Daphne and somehow even managed to reorganize the kitchen shelves amid all the chaos. Finally, Angela, Carrollton's secretary who is perhaps better described as the mama bear of our Hollygrove campers drove back and forth to Whole Foods twice to help give all the kids an opportunity to enjoy that outing.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Camp - Day 2

Day 2 of camp included vegetable prints, stir-frying a rainbow of vegetables, a discussion of making good choices, and then practice through a role-playing game. The highlight of the day was a visit from Ms. Beth, an actual yoga teacher. The boys and girls each had an hour-long session of not only yoga, but also flexibility and strength training, as well as a lot of fun just dancing and moving around. Ms. Beth was amazing; even a power outage during the girls' session did not slow her down.

One of the things that is already standing out to me about this year's camp is the great sense of community that is developing. At one point during the yoga sessions, the kids took turns going to the middle to do a "move, any move." The boys, who ranged in age from 5 to 18, were all completely engaged in encouraging, laughing with, and dancing along with whoever had ended up in the middle. It was great to see the interactions between these kids from different neighbohoods and schools, between old friends and the kids who have just met each other, between our youngest campers and our most senior counselors.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Camp, Day 1

Our first day of camp was packed full of singing, making lava lamps, dancing, reading books, four-square games, designing bean mosiacs, and eating different plant parts (The consensus is that beets are beyond disgusting, but the root beer floats seemed to make up for it!). Every single one of the 38 kids in attendance are either camp veterans, their younger siblings, or participate in one of our school year programs.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Our tutoring children took on a special benevolence project of their own during December. To encourage good behavior and focused work during tutoring sessions, these students earn checks based on their good behavior. On Thursdays students can turn in the checks for candy or small treats, or they can gradually save up their checks for larger prizes. Carrollton’s elders agreed to match each check that the students donated with $1 that would be given to Heifer International. During each tutoring session in December, the students learned something about the Heifer program—their process for helping families and the benefits of the various types of animals that are given to the families. We set a goal of 60 tickets, and children had the opportunity to donate some of their checks at the end of each day’s tutoring session. We surpassed our goal, and the students voted on the animal they wanted Heifer to purchase—rabbits! These donated checks represent a real gift from our students as it meant that they had less to spend on themselves. Despite the sacrifice of some candy or a toy (which was clearly the cause of some internal debates on some afternoons), the students thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to share in the Christmas spirit of giving.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

We had 53 children at our Christmas Party! This is the largest attendance we have ever had at one of our events, and does not even include the many teenagers who helped us out. We played games, decorated cookies, made crystal snowball ornaments, and heard the Nativity story by reading the children’s book The Night of Las Posadas. It was the first event that some of our children’s younger siblings attended, and it was exciting to begin meeting our future students. Many of our children’s families stayed at the church during the party to visit, listen to the Saints game, and help out (a real blessing with such a large group of children!).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Almost exactly 10 years ago, the Carrollton Avenue Church began a tutoring program for children in its New Orleans neighborhood. The congregation felt that if God had placed our building here, then our hearts should be further rooted here as well. The tutoring program was in many ways only a new way of doing something Carrollton has a long tradition of – loving and encouraging all who come through its doors. The tutoring program was simply a way to bring more people through those doors.

Ten years later God has brought dozens of children and their families through those doors and along with them hundreds of blessings. Each year I am surprised that the children who shyly (though never for long!) show up for that first day of tutoring in September have already become such valuable parts of our “family” by December.

The past few months have seen our transition from Kid City to Mid-City Ministries, an independent non-profit. In many ways this is simply a name change. We continue to partner with the Carrollton Avenue congregation. We meet in the same building—new and improved since 2005 due to some levee- breaks and the astounding generosity of volunteers and other supporters across the nation—and are running the same programs, with the same staff (that’s lucky me!). Our new status, however, allows us the opportunity to seek new sources of funding. This will ease Carrollton’s financial burdens, allowing it to better focus on its mission in our neighborhood while giving us new opportunities to expand our programs and better serve our children and their families.

I feel continually privileged to be a part of Mid-City Ministries-- to see our children growing academically, spiritually and emotionally and to see the love our volunteers show for our children through the sacrifice of time and other resources. While I am new to the world of blogging, and quite honestly, a little leery of it, I hope that this can be a medium to share the excitement, frustrations, and joy of seeing God work in Mid-City New Orleans.