What do you do when you have a group of churches that historically have had very few kids attend camp each year? You get creative!
That's exactly what happened when three churches in the Huntington District (Faith Chapel, Pleasant Chapel and Roanoke Seminary UMCs - all part of a newly-formed cluster) recently worked together to produce a dinner theatre they called "Letters from Camp." The March 22 presentation at Seminary UMC drew 100 people and raised more than $800 for camp scholarships for the children and youth of the three churches.
The play began with a conversation the pastors of two of the churches had in January. As Pastor Dave Marty of Faith Chapel recalls, "Pastor Kathy Miller of Seminary Church and I were talking one day about the fact that both of us really enjoy singing. It got us thinking about how we might use our singing to raise money for camp scholarships. The idea just grew from there."
As the idea for the event grew, so did the interest, and eventually Pleasant Chapel UMC became a partner, too. Representatives of the three churches then met to decide how they would divide the responsibilities.
In addition to hosting the event, Seminary UMC took lead in planning and preparing a traditional "camp supper," while other members of Seminary took responsibility for publicity, and others handled the audio-visual aspects of the program. Pleasant Chapel did clean-up, and also provided some of the youth actors for the program. Faith Chapel decorated the tables in keeping with various camp themes, while another Faith Chapel team designed, built and painted the set.
Marty wrote the script for the program, which followed two "campers" (Marty and Miller) as they experienced a typical week of camp. Each "day" (scene) they wrote home to tell, in music and drama, about all that happened that day. The first two days Marty and Miller portrayed elementary campers at Camp Lakewood. The third day they became middle school campers at Camp Adventure; and the last two days they were high school campers at Epworth Forest. Their songs included, among others, "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah," "My Fav'rite Camp Things" (a parody on "My Favorite Things" from "The Sound of Music") and "For Good."
They were accompanied by Faith Chapel.s Mary Lou DeHaven, and were ably assisted by several youth from both Faith Chapel and Pleasant Chapel. During the program, Ryan Gernand, of the Impact 2818 staff, portrayed a camp staffer as he played guitar and led the audience in several camp songs. In addition, the evening included some personal testimonies about camp, as well as a promotional video.
While all of the churches were pleased with the money raised for camp scholarships, they were even more excited several children and youth signed up to go to camp this summer.