Sawyerville Day Camp brings children together

Published 11:15 am Tuesday, July 16, 2013

By John David Barnes
Rector, Trinity Episcopal Church

Twenty years ago, the people of Trinity Episcopal Church in Demopolis, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Greensboro, sought to address a big problem in the Blackbelt – How can we provide useful activities for children in our area, many of which cannot afford to attend a typical summer camp?

And so, Sawyerville Day Camp became a reality. Originally located in the Headstart Center in the little Hale County community of Sawyerville, the Camp relied on local support and volunteers. But with each passing year, there have been more and more campers, and more outside interest in Camp – to the point that it has now grown to be three, one-week sessions staffed by people coming from all parts of Alabama and beyond.

John David Barnes, Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Demopolis, spends time with children during the Sawyerville Day Camp.

John David Barnes, Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Demopolis, spends time with children during the Sawyerville Day Camp.

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For the past few years, Sawyerville Day Camp has been located at Greensboro Elementary School, because it has bigger and better facilities. There are over 250 campers in each session and they are separated in three camps: Lower (ages 6-8), Middle (ages 9-11), and Upper (ages 12-14).

Campers do arts and crafts projects, keep a journal, learn through a Bible-based program and enjoy recreational activities.

There is also a popular drumming workshop where the campers learn discipline and to work together. Perhaps the favorite activity among all campers is “pool time.”

Marion Military Institute has generously allowed Camp use of their pool, as there is no other place to swim. For many campers, Sawyerville Day Camp will be one of the first times they have ever gotten into a pool.

Although Sawyerville Day Camp is a ministry of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Alabama, it requires the support of far more than just this one denomination.

There is no fee charged for any of the campers or staff and therefore, all costs associated with Camp must be raised each year. The staff members – primarily high school and college students – sleep in the Baptist and Methodist churches in Greensboro.

The chaplain for Sawyerville is Kervin Jones, the pastor of the Third Street Church of God, also in Greensboro. Very few, if any, of the campers themselves are Episcopalians.

To do the very best for our children, we must be prepared to work together to achieve something great. In my opinion, this is the very best aspect of Sawyerville. People working together, learning to bridge our differences and to better appreciate our similarities. Sawyerville’s motto is “It’s All for the Kids!” And I would add, the glory of God too.