The coordinators of Chesapeake Conference’s FLAG camps (an acronym for Fun Learning About God) in Cambridge, Md., are impacting the community by partnering with local organizations to provide the day camp program to locals free of charge.
Last year, the Cambridge church offered the camp for one week. They started off the week with seven kids and had 45 attending by the end of the week, says Cesar Gonzalez, Cambridge pastor. This year, they are offering two weeks of camp—for free. Gonzalez expects 70 kids that will be fed breakfast and lunch, learn songs about God, take interesting field trips and participate in sports, arts and crafts.
“We have two FLAG Camp teams plus a team of local volunteers that includes young adults and parents. In order to fund the camps, we have partnered with several local organizations, like the Care and Share Fund which donated $3,000, and the Cambridge Empowerment Center which is hosting the meals,” says Gonzalez. The American Legion Post 91 has provided a local waterfront venue, Governor's Hall at Sailwinds Park, for a greatly discounted price. The Cambridge church is also giving financial support.
Hope Lee works for Anchor Point, Inc., a Dorchester county-based nonprofit that provides education, mentoring and job training for youth and adults. Lee coordinates “learning parties” to increase family engagement and learning readiness for children age 0-5. She brings the children who participate to FLAG Camp. “This is my second year bringing my learning party families to the FLAG Camp. Just like last year, they enjoyed meeting new people, [taking]trips and learning more about God. It has been a great experience for myself and my learning party families,” she says.
“God has blessed me with this ministry. It's a challenge and it’s a blessing…,” says camp director Randy Myaing.
The goal for next year is to hold FLAG Camp for six weeks, says Gonzalez. He says this is important because most of the kids they serve may not get proper meals during summer break and have few positive options for filling their time. “We will have to seek more partners, but so far everyone we have asked has been very gracious. I want to thank Carl Rodriguez, Chesapeake Conference Youth Ministries director, and Mt. Aetna Camp for allowing us to experiment as we try to better serve our community. Without their financial backing and expertise this would not be possible.”
Chesapeake Conference operates FLAG Camps in Grasonville, Chestertown, Waldorf (all in Maryland), and in Wilmington, Del. For more information, visit mtaetnacamp.com.