This summer we are excited to offer the ninth annual day camp for refugee children from June 15-19. The camp was started in response to the Gray’s Lake drowning of Vera Nyaen in July of 2006. Vera was a treasured child in our congregation (Olivet Church) who immigrated from Liberia with her family in 2004. She drowned while swimming with friends. She did not know how to swim. We decided that the best way to honor her life was to offer swimming lessons to immigrant children, including her brother. And why not add other fun activities after swimming? Our goal is to provide a week of fun afternoons for enough immigrant children to fill a swimming session provided by Des Moines Parks and Recreation. Since Olivet disbanded, Creekside Church has taken on Camp Vera as one of their mission projects, but the camp is staffed by people from many different churches and walks of life.
The countries the kids represent are Liberia, Eritrea, and Burma. Kids range in age from 6 to 14 years old. Volunteers who bring their own children sometimes have the opportunity to enroll their kids in swimming lessons with the refugee children.
Additionally, families and volunteers should know that Camp Vera is a place where all refugee children from any religion are welcome, but the principles of following Jesus will be taught during camp.
Volunteer opportunities at Camp Vera are: transporting children, helping at the pool in the dressing rooms, picking up food or shopping, helping to prepare lunches and clean up at the church, assisting with Bible lessons or crafts, leading music, leading outdoor games, playing indoor games and puzzles with kids, helping with Junior High kids (who have a separate afternoon program), and clean up at the end of each day.
If you’d like more information or are interested in helping out, please contact Marge McKeever.