Sawyerville Day Camp is a free day camp for children and youth ages 6-14 living in Hale County, Alabama. In Summer 2017 we will have three four-day sessions, welcoming over 700 campers and 300 staff. The staff are high school and college age young people ages 16 and up. The staff come from all over the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama and the local community. In Summer 2016, one third of the staff were from Hale County. Many of them grew up as campers at SDC!
At the day camp, campers are offered a safe space to play, pray, and learn. We provide free transportation to and from camp via school buses contracted through the local school system. We also provide a free hot breakfast, hot lunch, and snack to each camper. Daily activities include Bible lessons, games, arts and crafts, and every camper’s favorite – swimming. At the beginning of the session, each camper receives a free water bottle, back pack, bathing suit, pool towel, and a book of their choosing. These items are lovingly donated by Episcopal parishes around the Diocese.
What's Camp Like?
Morning staff cheer!
Staff Training The staff arrives the weekend before the camp session begins to build community and learn more about the individual roles and responsibilities of staff members. The staff "pre-camp" time is important not only for bonding and developing leadership skills but also to work towards one of our camp goals, "improving race relations in Alabama." We learn about the history of Hale County, the Black Belt, and the camp, and how racism and classism affect our lives in Alabama. We learn how to relate to one another in light of our racial, economic, and/or faith backgrounds.
Registration On the Sunday prior to camp, campers and their parents attend a registration event. Here they confirm that they will be a part of camp and receive their free bathing suit, pool towel, backpack, water bottle, and books. All items are lovingly donated by friends of the camp.
Everyone loves the pool!
Camp The day camp begins on a Monday morning. Most of the campers arrive by school bus. Camp is divided into three age groups, Lower Camp (6-8 year olds), Middler Camp (9-11 year olds), and Upper camp (12-14 year olds). Staff members stay in one camp throughout the whole week and shepherd a small group of campers. Daily activities include games, arts and crafts, and Bible lessons. The highlight of the day is the trip to the swimming pool! Swimming lessons and pool safety are a wonderful way for the staff and campers to bond and play. Every year has a different theme, and the teaching and activities relate to that theme. Special workshops and speakers are often featured as well. We consistently have an AIDS/HIV education workshop, a drumming circle, basketball tournaments, guest musicians, and more! Camp ends at 3:15 p.m. each day, and most campers leave by school bus.
At the End of the Day The staff gets busy cleaning up and preparing for the next day--and are hopefully able to enjoy some down time too! The staff sleeps at the local middle and high schools - not exactly the most restful setting, but it shows how far we will go to show love to our campers and give up our own needs for the week!
Family Night We close the session with a youth-led worship service and a potluck dinner for campers and their families. All are welcome! This event is always an incredible way to celebrate the week and rejoice in our time together.
Often the horizons of the staff are broadened in unexpected ways. Their relationships with each other and with campers may become intensely important and difficult to let go of at the end of the week. Living in close quarters, sharing responsibilities binds the staff together with a sense of purpose. The experience of living and working in Christian community is also a powerful experience. A healthy dose of humor and humility usually mark the experience of both staff and campers. The exposure of one to the other touches the lives and broadens the horizons of all the participants in memorable ways.