Lower Valley Bible camps offer fun, faith, fellowship

Tawnya Panizzi
| Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

No one is an island.

Not the youngest, the sickest or the weakest, said Jamie Dillon, youth minister at St. Scholastic Parish in Aspinwall.

“We are all here to help each other,” said Dillon, as she closed out this year's vacation Bible camp where more than 70 children spent the week learning, singing, crafting and helping each other.

Themed “Faith Island,” Dillon said she focused on the continuing plight of Haiti and social justice across the world, but she delivered it on a level that young children would be more interested in.

“We talked about the kids in Haiti and how they don't have money to buy toys,” Dillon said. “The first day of camp we made soccer balls out of newspaper.”

Summer Bible schools will be in full swing this year throughout the Lower Valley, with many of the parishes hosting week-long festivities to encourage children toward religion and community service.

At Christ Church Fox Chapel, the camp runs July 8 to 12.

With the theme “Kingdom Rock — Stand Strong for God,” children will be transported back to medieval times through games, songs and crafts.

Director Patty Todd said that some of the supplies she's gathering for this year's props include grapevine wreaths, scepters, flicker lights, gold lame', shepherd crooks, crowns and stuffed animals (mainly sheep).

“We'll be using paper towel rolls for castles and cardboard for shields. We'll try to make knight costumes and everything,” she said.

Aimed at children ages three to those in fifth grade, the cost is $75. The church is along Squaw Run Road East in Fox Chapel.

Registration forms are available at www.christchurchfoxchapel.org, in the church lobby, or by calling at 412-963-8938.

Later in July, Faith United Methodist Church in Fox Chapel will host its camp from July 21 to 25. The theme will be “God's Backyard.”

“We'll use tents and outdoors items to get the kids' attention,” said Amy Parkinson, camp leader. Children should each bring at plain white T-shirt for one of the crafts, she said.

Parkinson will focus on service this year — to family, community and church.

“We want them to know how important it is to do so for others,” she said.

Camp is for children ages 3 though eighth grade. Cost is $7.

The church is along West Chapel Ridge Road. Call 412-508-7868 to register or e-mail ajparkin83@gmail.com.

At St. Scholastica, along Brilliant Avenue, Dillon enlists more than a dozen teenage counselors to help lead the younger campers through daily lessons.

Genny Laymon, 15, of O'Hara, and Jesse Dillon, 16, of Indiana Township, said the children were thrilled to discover each day what kind of games and crafts were in store for them.

Laymon and Dillon led a stuffed animal version of Angry Birds, and they held milk jug relays where children raced with water-filled bottles.

“We wanted them to see what the kids in Haiti feel like when they have to carry water around every day,” Laymon said.

The children recycled the water bottles to make banks, Dillon said. They took them home and collected pennies all week to bring back at the end of the week.

“We had them put their coins end-to-end along the gym floor and it was great,” Dillon said. “One team crossed the floor three times with the change they collected.”

Proceeds from the penny races will be shipped to the Good Samaritan School in Haiti.

Aspinwall resident and counselor Emma Klatt, 14, said the event was aimed at making the children realize that there are people they can help “even though they are young.”

Fellow counselors Clare O'Connor, 14, and Sean Ellis, 13, said they got as much out of camp as their younger counterparts.

“I like being a leader,” said Clare, of Aspinwall.

“I think we all got a better understanding of how other people live and what poverty is,” said Sean, of O'Hara. “We need to remember what other people have.”

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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