Written by guest blogger: Rev. C. Allen Colwell* of St. John Presbyterian Church, New Albany, Indiana.
Last summer a volunteer and I drove one of the children who live in the neighborhood of our church to camp. Even before it officially started, they giggled and smiled at even the experience of driving down a two-lane, hilly, country road — something that they had never done before. For them, it ended up being a week of “never having done somethings,” from sleeping on the top bunk of a bed to swimming in a lake, from campfire songs to making new friends. It was for them an experience as many of you all have experienced for yourselves — the type of life-defining experience that only a place like Pyoca can offer.
That child would not have had the opportunity to go to camp that week if it hadn’t been for the faithfulness of our congregation. St. John Church has a long history of supporting Pyoca and shares a passion for making it possible for any child to spend a week at camp, whether they can afford it or not. Every year we gather for a fundraising luncheon that raises thousands of dollars, donated by persons who pitch in everything between $5 to the cost of an entire week of camp. These funds get used to offer half-scholarships and full ones, both for the members of our church family, but also our extended neighborhood family as well.
One of the persons who helps coordinate the event, which also features testimonials from previous campers, says that the idea is to invite the church to “meet some of the kids whose eyes light up when you mention Pyoca.” Another sees it as a chance for people to draw upon the camp experience in order to “spark a desire to help provide that experience to other kids,” again, those who by circumstances would not have the means to go.
We are by no means a large church but take pride in being able to send one of the largest numbers of campers every summer. And we pray that you all might consider doing the same. Because it is an immense blessing to hear about the joy of a camp that is more than a place and an experience that will forever change a child’s life by a week that is more than a scrapbook memory.
*You can check out Pastor Allen’s own blog Growing in Grace at: https://pastorallen07.wordpress.com/