Summer Camp and Smiley Faces - Sarah Davis

Mid-1960’s someone came up with a bright yellow sunshine-looking circle with wide-open eyes and a HUGE ear-to-ear smile.  It caught on and is, even now, a popular method of expressing happiness, joy and friendship.  All that to say:   If I had to capture the Summer Explorers Camp in just a couple of words, I’d say “Smiley Face!”  

Smiley faces on staff - I had the chance to bring my grandson to camp several days this summer.  Every day part of the staff was waiting at the front door to the Mission and Fellowship Center with big smiles and cheerful attitudes greeting each child by name and engaging them with questions and quips.  Toward the end of the program, I KNOW they had to be tired, but the big smiles and laughs were still there!  (It was also comforting to know they were at the door so little ones couldn’t escape!)  Inside workers were passing out breakfast and playing with students.  Always excitement, always joy, always relaying - “We’re so glad to see YOU!”

Smiley faces on children – Field trips, water day, crafts, singing, dancing, planning chapel, praising God, trips to the “castle with the big clock” (the library), riding the Great Smoky Mountain Railway, new friends, old friends, Bible stories brought to life, and on and on….  All you have to do is look at the pictures in the First Explorers Newsletter – smiling faces everywhere!  Enough said!

Smiley faces on parents -  Camp wrapped up with a dinner for parents and students, a silent auction of student art work, and presentations by age group that summarized the summer in song and recitation.  I sat near parents from our church, other churches and the community at large who were so happy that their children had the opportunity to be a part of this exciting adventure.  Parents expressed appreciation for our church’s hospitality, our great staff, and for making summer camp something that their children didn’t want to miss!  We were truly an oasis in a dry and thirsty land!

Many thanks to Kelly Brown who directed Summer Explorers and his assistant Hannah Harris.  And to all the energetic staff:  Caleb Bonner, Ashley Fitzgerald, Jacob French, Megan Harris, Elise Parham, Caleb Parham, Jose Martinez, Sarah Ogletree, Clara Richards, Landon Smith, Sarah Spiro and Alexa Teague - THANKS for making this a “Smiley Face” kind of summer!