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Seeds of change – together! St. Stephen's 11th annual drumming camp

Photo courtesy St. Stephen's, Millburn
Maria T. Card

St. Stephen’s, Millburn hosted 20 campers at its 11th annual Drumming Camp on August 21-25. The week’s activities included drumming, singing, dancing, arts and crafts, playing games, making and eating s’mores, and getting soaked with water balloons!

The theme of the program and the week, “Seeds of Change – Together,” was based on a book about Dr. Wangari Maathai, a woman from the Kikuyu people of Kenya who became a well-respected scientist and leader for environmental justice.

Dozens of family members, parishioners, and friends gathered for the campers’ closing program on Friday, August 25, which was led by Côte d’Ivoire native Yah’Ya Kamate. After enjoying a cookout together with their families, each child carried home a backpack stuffed with school supplies, a shopping bag filled with snacks, and their craft creations from the week. And, as they have every year, campers left knowing that they can make a positive difference in their communities and the world.

When asked by a staff person, “What’s one thing you can do to make our world a better place?”, Cindy, a returning camper responded, “We can volunteer and help somebody who needs help.” And Shakinah, who was a former camper and volunteered this year, talked about entering college in the fall, with a goal of one day starting a non-profit organization to provide healthy and nutritious food to those in need.

The five-day camp experience is led by a core staff of experienced teachers and counselors, as well as an array of volunteers from the parish and surrounding area who assist in a variety of ways, including preparing and serving snacks, dinners purchased at local restaurants – Oscar’s Deli, La Strada Restaurant, and Vinnie’s Pizza – and dessert each day.

Two of the counselors who worked with the children this year were themselves former campers from years past.

The camp was established in 2013 in partnership with the Diocese of Newark Prison Ministry, which advocates for restorative justice, interfaith programs, and personal healing for prisoners, their families, and communities. This year it was expanded to include the children of refugee families sponsored by two Episcopal parishes. The camp is free for all participants and is funded by charitable contributions from friends, parishioners, and the St. Stephen’s of Kansas Charitable Trust.