Caring in Action Camp - 2017
by Cooper Spruill This summer CCC was privileged to have two summer employees work with us during our Caring In Action day camps. These camps allow us to provide a job-like experience for 20 North Abilene teens as counselors. Thanks to a grant from the Future Fund at the Community Foundation of Abilene, we are even able to incentivize the teens' involvement with gift cards.
One of our summer employee superstars, Cooper Spruill, a graduate student at Abilene Christian University, shares his experience working with our staff and the teen counselors:
This year I spent my summer vacation not on any beach, tourist attraction, or any exotic destination, and I’m better off for it. Instead, I spent my summer working alongside current and future leaders of Abilene, Texas.
Abilene, Texas, as you may know, isn’t one of the major cities in Texas, but for its size, it loves and leads in major ways. Yes, you can’t go far in this city without finding someone who cares, and that is exactly what myself and twenty-three other Abilenians did this summer. We cared about and invested in the youth of this city through the Connecting Caring Communities Young Leader’s of Abilene program and Caring In Action day camps.
Through the two initiatives, a mix of twenty youthful high-school and middle-school age counselors were “hired” to help run the Caring In Action day camps for elementary-aged youth, and learn vital leadership skills for their future. The camps ran during the afternoons of four different weeks throughout the summer (June 12-15, June 26-29, July 10-13, July 24-27). While at camp, each of the twenty camp counselors separated into four groups that represented their different tasks for the day: snacks, games, crafts, and registration. While in these groups, the counselors were tasked by their group leaders to complete certain portions of the day’s activities, or assigned to the different groups of campers as guides.
Throughout this process, the counselors are given the opportunity to take initiative and develop skills such as task planning, time management, professional communication, team coordination, all while participating in a fun and/or delicious activity with the campers. As for the campers, they were met with a variety of creative snacks, challenging crafts, and engaging games that the staff prepared for them that day. All in all, our time this summer at the Caring In Action day camps was an all-around win for everyone who participated, and a joy to witness.
Throughout my time at the camp, I oversaw one of the four groups as they rotated through their various assignments. While doing so, I watched different counselors step out of their comfort zones, take charge, and genuinely work to put and keep a smile on our campers’ faces. Some of my favorite memories of camp came on the days when we played team tic-tac-toe, made art pallet cookies, and were visited by a zoo-keeper from the Abilene Zoo.
Each week of camp brought reoccurring faces, new elements of our year’s "Stretch" theme, differing challenges, and rewards. Still, the staff and campers of this year’s Caring In Action day camp brought an effort to learn, lead, and be successful at Caring in Action. Through their dedication, and the overall direction, the day camps at Connecting Caring Communities were very successful this summer, and the relationships and memories made there are built to last.