Memo: Summer Schedule and Interns


Today, ABC will be shifting away from its summer intern program. ABC has cherished its relationships with its past interns. Last year’s interns, Katelyn and Elyse, have a special place in our hearts because they loved both our ABC church family and the Witkowski family well, writing notes, playing, and sharing the gospel. I can say with certainty that Katelyn and Elyse were true encouragers and rightfully hold a special place in the hearts of many of ABC’s members.

ABC began 2019 with every intention of continuing the Summer Internship program. April and I and many others of worked tirelessly to recruit interns for this summer, posting the position to several universities job boards and reaching out to contacts and potential interns in Virginia, Georgia, Arkansas, Kentucky, Alabama, Florida, Kansas, New York, and Minnesota. We also shared the position repeatedly on social media. Though a handful of college students expressed initial interest, none have been able to commit to the internship. Consequently, ABC has decided to suspend the internship program for the summer and will reevaluate the program going forward. Ultimately, ABC would love to host one to two pastoral interns during the school year (September – May) believing a yearlong internship would foster deeper and longer relationships that would both bless ABC and the intern. The intern would work with the families of ABC, preach, visit, and study the Word and hopeful receive seminary credit through Southern Seminary or one of its sister’s institutions.
Though this summer has not played out as ABC planned, we know it has played out as God intended. Even in our disappointment, we can be sure of Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” We know Summer 2019 will be the best possible summer that we could ask for because our loving, gracious and good God reigns! We are excited to see God work in the days ahead!
In place of the ABC Kids program, ABC will be launching Wacky Wednesdays. On June 19, July 10, July 17, July 31. On those fours Wednesdays, our families will meet at ABC at 9:30 AM and will head out to Jump four really cool locations! For more info, click here

We also will be investing in the lives of our adult members, launching a new Bible Study! More information will be coming soon!

Church family get excited summer 2019 is almost here!

Connect Camp 2017: Making Camp Better

connect-camp-blogWith hearts full of both excitement and apprehension, First Baptist Church Eastman launched the very first Connect Camp in July of 2015. FBCE’s children’s ministry (M4G Kids) created the camp seeking to develop deeper relationships with the children who attended FBCE’s Vacation Bible School program.

Connect-Camp-Stats-and-ReflectionsPrior to the Camp’s creation, FBCE saw little to no conversion from VBS into FBCE’s kids ministry. Both teachers and the children’s Pastor, Peter Witkowski, actively invited kids to come to FBCE’s Wednesday night Bible studies and Sunday school.

But, few families responded to the invitations. And those that did walk back into Children’s Ministry Center usually came for only a week or two before drifting off.

Seeking to find a better way to connect to families to FBCE and to Jesus, M4G Kids’ hosted the very first Connect Camp at FBCE’s Campus in 2015. Forty-three kids attended that first day of camp. Connect Camp 2015 went on to average forty-five campers over its four week time spawn.  Almost half of the children, forty-five percent were visitors (children from other churches or with no church home).

Since that great start, Connect Camp’s numbers have declined. The camp averaged thirty-three campers in 2016 and thirty-four campers in 2017. Though M4G Kids was excited to see its attendance bounce up nine percent in 2016, the ministry was expecting a more substantial bounce as Connect Camp added a Kindergarten class for the first time. Even with an extra-class, the 2017 numbers fell short of the 2015 numbers.

IMG_7126Though the Connect Camp numbers could be better, the camp still outpaces all other M4G Kid’s camp actives. The church took fourteen kids to Centrikid. And M4G Kids had also been transporting an average of three to four kids to Winshape Community Camps.  Connect Camp reached 47 different children during the month of July. And forty-nine percent of those campers were visitors. As summer camps go, Connect Camp is doing well.

Though Connect Camp is doing well on many fronts, M4G Kids will need to spend some time pondering how to improve the Connect Camp experience.

Over the last three years, Connect Camp has taken place on Thursday mornings from 8AM-Noon in an effort to accommodate working parents. Given kids propensity for sleeping in during the summer, perhaps having a 9AM or 10AM start time would resonate with IMG_6990more children. Or perhaps we should shift the camp to PM hours? Perhaps we need to shift days and move the camp to a Wednesday or Sunday context? Or perhaps, M4G Kids needs to rethink its follow up strategy and move in a different direction. What do you think?

If you have served or have had children attend Connect Camp, M4G Kids would love to hear your thoughts about how we can improve Connect Camp and about what things you think Connect Camp is doing well.

Please leave your feedback below in the comment section.

FBCE Loves Centrikid; You Will Too!

centrikid-blogIf your kids love shaving cream, water balloons, silly dancing, doing cannon balls in the lake, and weekend trips filled with dancing they need to come with FBCE to the 2018 Centrikid Weekend Camp. All the kids and chaperones who risked a bus ride with their children’s pastor this past year loved camp. And for good reason.

IMG_3557Centrikid hums along like a well oil diesel motor; it has more fun games, classes, and activities than all-inclusive party at Chuck Cheese; and, it has a laser focus on the gospel. I love the Centrikid Weekend Camp experience.  I highly recommend it for your kids.

From the moment our kids where greeted by pool-noodle waving staffers until the moment they piled back slowly back onto the bus with autographed T-shirts, the Centrikid staff was all about our kids. They seamlessly processed all of FBCE’s paper work. The Centrikid team took time to talk with and play with all the kids. They were also quick to answer adult questions: “When is lights out?” And when six of our campers felt threatened by an anonymous white guy, the camp director, Meg Brown, and the Camp Pastor, David Pearson, responded quickly and graciously. Thankfully, everything checked out. But their care and concern for us reflected the whole feel of the camp. The Centrikid staff strikes that amazing balance of both keeping a tight schedule and of caring for all the campers. Consequently, I think Centrikid is amazing!

IMG_3582Though us pastors and chaperones appreciate Lifeway’s ability to deftly handle the logistical challenges of caring for several hundred kids, our campers go to camp for camp. And Centrikid Camp rocks camp. Centrikid offers a great assortment of track times ranging from muddy slip-and-slides to fingernail painting. The kids also have a blast playing games they selected. But, camp has only just begun.

Our campers highlight this year was the grand, final game, Organized Mass Chaos (OMC). Our kids loved entering the OMC playing field, racing through the pool noodle tunnel and screaming out their team cheer for the whole world to hear. When the game started, our kids went crazy smashing water balloons, making silly face, putting shaving cream on people, and holding impromptu dance parties as the valiantly pursued victory. For the kids of FBCE, OMC is the game of all games! Hence, they and I think Centrikid is amazing!

We veered over to the Shocco Springs location this year. We loved our new digs. The rooms were a definite upgrade. We all loved having a private bathroom. The amenities Shocco Springs were great.  The camp offered bazooka ball (a twist on paint ball, kayaking, and a blob on their lake. We quickly burned through our free time barely finding time for the all-important trip to the snack shop. Thus, I think Centrikid is amazing.

IMG_3436Most importantly, we loved Centrikid’s commitment to the Gospel. From the opening celebration to the closing celebration, the Gospel remained at the forefront of camp. The kids went to four different Bible studies throughout the weekend. They heard the gospel connected back to their track time games during water breaks. And, they heard the gospel clearly articulated from the stage by Pastor David. Our chaperones were also resonated with Pastor David when he illustrated God’s free gift of salvation by giving away candy to one blessed camper. Because the Gospel ebbed and flowed throughout every aspect of camp, the chaperones and I had multiple opportunities to talk with our campers about the gospel. For this reason most of all, I think Centrikid is amazing.

We loved Centrikid this year and cannot wait to go back next year! The only question remaining is: “Are you coming?”