Photos by Trish Brewer. Story by Chris Meehan.
The community’s first day camp on the South Side of Indianapolis wrapped up at the end of June. Action volunteers and Christians in Mission (CIM) team members worked together to pull off the eight-day camp for over 20 children.
They held the camp primarily on vacant property owned by members of the South Side CIM team. Campers made root beer from scratch, launched water balloons from a slingshot, performed Bible skits and completed service projects in the neighborhood.
“The size of the group was about what we expected and planned for,” says CIM team leader Michael Coney. “Through camp we met several new children and their families and learned more about the family situations of several kids we already knew. It was a step forward for our efforts to build community on the South Side.”
Jo Zimmel (Servant Branch) directed the camp. She is a long-time physical education teacher who helped develop the community’s camp in Allendale. Each day she brainstormed with camp staff, then planned activities for each group of boys and each group of girls. She says the only real surprise came when the root beer the girls made came out clear instead of the usual brown color. (They used a different variety of root beer extract from the one she has used elsewhere. The clear root beer still tasted fine.)
“One feature we kept from Allendale Camp is the Human School Bus—having the camp staff walk to the children’s houses to pick them up and drop them off, so no one walks alone,” she says. “Sometimes in their walks the kids we invited yelled out to their friends and invited them to come along.”
Each day of the camp had a scriptural theme and often an activity that complemented the theme. After learning about David and Goliath, the boys used a slingshot to launch water balloons at a large cardboard Goliath. The girls’ staff performed a skit for them called “Danielle and the Scary Sleepover,” an adaptation of the story of Daniel in the lions’ den. Campers also painted a fence and swept the street in preparation for a neighborhood block party.
After the camp ended, CIM team member Jen Torma asked one nine-year-old boy if he’d be interested in coming back again some time. “I’d be crazy not to,” he said.