By Will Sheets
Middle School Leader
Why engage in the lives of middle school and high school students? Why step into, what is for many, an uncomfortable, awkward and emotional time of life? Because they are worth it. They are moldable. There is a HUGE need.
My name is Will and this year I am serving as the Middle School Leader for the Hilliard Free Lunch Summer Camp for Kids. My job is to provide exciting and engaging programming for our students who are in 6th grade or older. During the year I teach 7th and 8th grade in Southwestern City Schools.
This is a brand new adventure for us here at SON Ministries. As we enter into our 10th summer of this important community program, we were facing a new problem. Many of the families and respective children we have been serving are growing up. Many of the kids we started with are now entering into middle school and high school. Last summer we began to face the difficulty of trying to fit middle school aged children into a camp with programming designed mainly for children in grades k-5. Many of our older children began to grow bored with the programming for the younger campers and naturally began to act out.
This summer we are creating space just for these older campers! In May I received a message from an 8th grade boy who attended camp last year asking if I was returning to camp this summer. When I told him I was returning and that we were planning activities specifically for our older students he quickly sent a message which simply read, “IT’S ABOUT TIME!!!!!!!!!!!”
So far this summer, we have focused a lot on developing trust and relationships with the older children specifically. One of the first days, as I was communicating some of our rules and expectations I communicated a common theme of our summer camps. God made each of us and loves each of us, so that is enough reason to love and respect one another. What seems like such a simple truth to many of us can be a totally foreign concept to a child entering the world of adolescence, a time when friendships are constantly beginning and ending, a time when great changes are happening and a time of self-discovery. During the first days of camp my goal has been to show these young people that they are truly lovable. If a child doesn’t believe they are lovable how can we expect them to accept that God loves them as well as expect them to love one another?
Would you please join us in praying that we will see meaningful relationships developed with our middle school students? Would you also pray that these children would take time during their summer breaks to grow in character, love and respect? I am excited about this summer, because in the words of an 8th grade boy, “IT’S ABOUT TIME!!!!!!!”
“Every child deserves a champion – an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.” – Rita Pierson
At SON Ministries, PEOPLE are our priority, relationships are our goal.