A downtown Oklahoma City church is reaching out to smaller ministries to offer fall-break camps for youths.
St. Luke's United Methodist Church, a prominent downtown church at 222 NW 15, created an arts and music camp based on the Maurice Sendak book “Where the Wild Things Are.” The first camp was Oct. 15-19 at Hillcrest Fuente de Vita United Methodist Church in south Oklahoma City. Another camp will be Monday through Friday at Christ United Methodist Church in northeast Oklahoma City.
Julie Robinson, St. Luke's director of missions, said the church started planning the camp in March as a way to help their smaller sister churches in innercity neighborhoods.
Wendi Neal, Hillcrest Fuente de Vita's pastor, said she was excited when St. Luke's members told her they wanted to offer a camp at her church, 5801 S Pennsylvania. She said the church is a congregation blended from two churches — one English-speaking and one Spanish-speaking — that merged in 2006. She said the church offers bilingual worship and Sunday attendance is about 50 people.
Robinson and St. Luke's volunteer Cathy Busey, said St. Luke's members wanted to do something to help their sister churches whose resources for activities like youth camps might be limited.
“We found out what some of the needs are in the community as far as after-school care and music and art opportunities,” Robinson said.
Busey said, “Partnering with them helps bolster them up, plus the churches need to be centers of the communities they're in.”
At Hillcrest Fuente de Vita, the campers were divided by age into “wild thing” creature categories like the Pockles and the Zooloos. Busey said the free camp was designed for children in pre-K through fifth grade. The camp organizers said about 85 children attended all or a portion of the camp. The camp ran from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and aftercare was provided until 6 p.m. Children were offered breakfast, lunch and snacks throughout the day filled with art and music sessions, many of them led by artists and musicians affiliated with the Oklahoma Arts Council. Busey said St. Luke's volunteers visited throughout the camp to read to the campers to promote literacy.
In one area, children created their own “wild thing” sculptures out of paper under the direction of professional artist Nathan Pratt. In another room, campers learned a dance, while professional musician Armando Rivera helped children in another section of the church make music with upturned plastic paint buckets turned into drums and mariachis made up of soda pop cans filled with BBs.
Busey said each camper received a copy of the “Where the Wild Things Are” book and a T-shirt that incorporates the book's theme.
Busey said the volunteers were preparing to do the whole thing again at Christ United Methodist, 1006 NE 17. Robinson said about 90 youths had signed up for the second camp and the volunteers could take a maximum of 150 participants.