Save the date

OK, folks, here we go – the dates for Mountain T.O.P. Adults In Ministry’s week-long camps next summer are now posted on the ministry’s website:

AIM Week 1: June 9 – 15, 2013, Major Home Repair -or- Kaleidoscope

AIM Week 2: June 23 – 29, 2013, Major Home Repair -or- Summer Plus

AIM Week 3: July 7 – 13, 2013, Major Home Repair  -or- Quest

What this means is that if you come, alone or as part of a group, to week 1, each person can individually choose (prior to camp) whether to participate in major home repair or in Kaleidoscope. If you come week 2, each person can choose between MHR and Summer Plus. Week 3, each person can choose between major home repair or Quest.

The descriptions below are my own, although I think they’re accurate:

Major Home Repair: Teams of about six people are formed on Sunday night of camp. Each team works all week at the same site, helping to improve the home of a needy Cumberland Mountain family. The guided but volunteer-driven team selection process is intended to give each team a balance of men and women, various ages and skill levels. Prior experience is not necessary; teams include everyone from complete newbies to professional contractors.

Kaleidoscope: An arts program for elementary-age special-needs children. Volunteers can either sign up to lead a workshop (music, drawing, arts and crafts, etc.) or just to assist the kids and workshop leaders. “Special needs” is broadly-interpreted and might include everything from severe disabilities to ADD/ADHD or just a really crummy family situation. Volunteers pick the kids up from homes each morning, bring them to camp, and take them home each afternoon. On Friday, the workshops demonstrate what they’ve learned at a celebration attended by the kids’ family members.

Summer Plus: Enrichment workshops for young teenagers from Grundy County —  mostly 12-15. Past workshops have included cooking, juggling, creative writing, tennis, arts and crafts, women’s self-defense, photography, drama, creating a camp newsletter, and so on. Potential leaders are welcome to suggest their own ideas. Each workshop is two hours a day for four days, so in many cases it’s more of an introduction than a complete class, meaning you may be more qualified to lead a workshop than you realize. Teens attend one workshop in the morning and a different one in the afternoon. Most volunteers who do want to lead a workshop do so during one session and assist with someone else’s workshop during the other session, but gluttons for punishment like my friend Robert Matthews lead two different workshops (Robert teaches both juggling and photography). It’s even possible to have two separate sessions of the same workshop if the volunteer leader is willing and the staff feels there’s enough interest among the teens to justify it. And, as with Kaleidoscope, you can sign up just to be a helper if there’s nothing you feel like teaching.

As with Kaleidoscope, volunteers pick the kids up each morning and drop them off each afternoon, and there’s a Friday celebration for each workshop to demonstrate or describe its content.

Quest: A relatively-new program, and the only one in which I haven’t participated. This also involves teens from Grundy County. It’s an adventure program – high ropes course, low ropes course, rappelling, rock climbing, horseback riding and a service day. Volunteers, as I understand it, may but are not required to participate in the activities themselves. Those who don’t participate in a given activity can function as encouragers.

The volunteers (most of whom travel to camp from out-of-state) spend the week staying at Camp Cumberland Pines near Altamont, Tenn. Friends Cabin is air-conditioned, with two adults staying in each room. In the evening, after the home repair teams have returned to camp and after the Kaleidoscope/Summer Plus/Quest teens have been taken home, the home repair and youth-program volunteers come back together into a full camp community for supper. Volunteers have a time of sharing at which they can talk about the day’s joys and concerns, and then a brief, but creative and participatory, worship service. On Wednesday of a camp week, there’s a cookout followed by free time which volunteers can spend out in the county (or in their bunk napping).

There are, of course, some AIM weekends (major home repair only) coming up this fall, and I encourage you to check those out, especially if your situation won’t allow you to take a week off during the summer. But I love the richer experience, team-building and sense of community you get during a full week-long camp.

Here’s a link to the series of posts I made some months back about AIM. Here’s the official ministry video: