The Mission’s six-week Summer Enrichment Camp serves local 1st-5th graders each summer. The camp, typically held in both Frederick and Thurmont, provides instruction, field trips, and activities that help students stay on grade level in math and reading, while teaching them about God’s love for them. With a capacity of 50 children at each location, the camp normally runs at full enrollment with a large supporting staff.
This year, however, restrictions due to COVID-19 challenged Mission staff to consider how this important ministry could continue and still maintain highest standards for public health and safety. “The camp is a safe place for the kids,” says Grace Schofield, director of the Frederick location for over 12 years. Grace has witnessed the impact the camp has on children’s lives and was committed to finding a solution. “Many of the same kids return each year, so we decided to try a virtual camp,” she says.
Virtual camp kickoff began at Carrollton Park in July, where students picked up backpacks with goodies inside and said hello to their counselors. For the following three weeks, they met online with camp staff, completing math, reading and writing activities, and listening to stories from the Bible.
To conclude virtual camp students returned to the park to receive free books and ice cream, and to play relay games together (while still adhering to COVID-19 social distancing protocols). Parents were blessed by this event, too, as they chatted together and talked with camp counselors. “I’m so glad that we had virtual camp, and that we actually had the chance to get the kids together to do some activities at the end,” said one mom.
The Frederick County Reading Council and Summit Trace Church donated books for camp this year. Because of their contribution, not only were the kids at camp able to choose books to inspire summer reading, but also the remaining books were distributed during the Mission’s annual backpack drive. The network of kindness that enabled this year’s camp to proceed includes Mission staff and volunteers, generous donors, dedicated parents, and eager children. Together and by God’s grace, they made Summer Enrichment Camp 2020 a “virtual” success!