by Jay Wintermeyer
The Dayton (Wash.) Church struggled for years making a significant impact in their community. Time and again they tried reaching their neighbors but kept finding closed doors. That’s when they decided to try something different.
Members decided to try reaching the children in the community by holding a week-long day camp. They decided to focus on helping children stay in school and away from harmful substances and behaviors by focusing on strengthening self-worth. Now in its ninth summer, the Dayton Day Camp is making a positive contribution to the community and reaching many with God’s love.
This summer, the Dayton Church family worked together with community volunteers to reach a group of children nearly four times the size of their little congregation. They served 157 children ages 4–17. Each year the number of campers continues to climb. This year they were thrilled with the teen turnout; 46 young people came each day to learn and participate.
The theme this year was, “You’ve Got Talent.” This helped children understand how valuable they are to God and those around them. Every day, special guests would come and talk with the children about how to use their God-given talents. Guest speakers included a local graphic artist and musician, a local bronze craftsman, an ice-cream truck owner, a respiratory therapist, and a social worker.
The outreach is beginning to open doors. Many community members volunteer time to help make the camp a reality. One community staff member this year says, "I have joy in my heart. I've made so many connections, so many good things ... I have had a blessed experience the whole time."
Parents and campers especially love the day camp. One parent says, "We plan all year for this, and we love having the time for each other without the kids, knowing they will be safe and having fun."
The bottom line is that this vibrant outreach effort is only possible because of God’s help and the tireless dedication of the entire church. Everyone does something to help.
A youth leader from this year sums it up best: “It doesn't seem to matter what we do as long as we are connected to Jesus. Challenges are a moving target. It is incredible. It's like cotton candy: Challenges present themselves then dissolve as the Holy Spirit works."