WHITEHALL – The Lebanon Lutheran Church, 1101 S. Mears Ave. has a long standing history of holding day camps for the children of the community.
There are a lot of traditions that have formed over the 27 years the church has been holding these camps. These traditions continue to be the backbone for the day camp, but this year the children will also experience some new and exciting things.
Even though the camp is held at the church, it is important that the community knows regardless of their beliefs, everyone is accepted and welcome at the church and day camp. The church has an arms wide open approach to the world, and the day camp is no different.
“The camp is made up mostly of kids that aren’t of a Lutheran background and many of them are not of a faith based background, so its important to us to model the kind of generosity and openness that we hope to convey to others,” said Pastor Doug Ogden.
Each year the day camp follows a theme, and this year the overall theme of the curriculum is “In earth as in Heaven”. Under this theme, there are topics the camp will dive deeper into.
The topics to be explored this year are education and why it’s important, world hunger and generosity, the importance of world peace, equality and understanding, and the importance of good health. The camp will use biblical stories, mostly from the Gospel of Luke, to help the kids have a greater understanding of these topics.
The day camp is usually held indoors, but this year it will be held outside. The church is taking a proactive approach to keep the campers safe amid the coronavirus.
“I really feel strongly that with all of the things being canceled this summer, kids are going to need a structured fun thing to do this summer. If we can pull it off with all of the health precautions in place, I really feel like we need to do that,” said Ogden.
There will be carpet squares set up outside to ensure the children are spaced 6 feet apart from each other. A new option that has been added this year because of the coronavirus, is a virtual camp experience. The church wants to offer an option to people who are still concerned about sending their children to a day camp.
The goal of this option is to allow a child to experience everything at their home that they would normally experience if they were physically present at the day camp. The church will have a video feed streaming through Facebook live the entire day.
The camera’s point of view will be from the perspective of a participant. The camp goers, both virtual and physically present, will enjoy games, songs, crafts, lessons and stories. The children that are taking part in the camp virtually will be able to pick up a package ahead of time that will include all of the materials they will need to be able to participate in that portion of the experience.
Another added experience this year, is a led discussion group. This discussion will allow the children time to talk about things that are affecting their lives. There are so many things going on in the world; between the pandemic, racial violence, and so many other conflicts, the church wants to give a voice to these issues and hopefully spark some healing.
“We want the kids to understand that they are a part of this world, and we work our way through these things together,” says Pastor Ogden.
This year the day camp will be held July 20th through the 24th, from 9 am until 12:30pm. The day camp is open to kids who have finished kindergarten all the way to someone who has finished seventh grade.
“This is day camp as the kids have always known it. It’s going to be different because of format, but we are going to do our best to do the same day camp that kids have been appreciating in this area for 27 years,” said Ogden.