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Salkehatchie Summer Service
Huntersville Camp 2008
Notes from the Camp Director

Jerry Kita was born in Welland, Ontario, Canada and has lived in Huntersville, NC since July 1997 with his wife Mona and their three children, Ben, Nathan and Natalia. The Kita family are members of Huntersville United Methodist Church. In 2000 Jerry and Mona led a group of eight youth to a Salkehatchie Summer Service Camp in Camden, South Carolina. Huntersville United Methodist Youth have continued to attend the Camden camp. This year he is running his 6th camp in Huntersville.

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July 6, 2008
July 19, 2008
July 20, 2008
July 21, 2008
July 22, 2008
July 23, 2008
July 24, 2008
July 25, 2008

May 3, 2008 - Huntersville, North Carolina

It's time to start getting ready for another Salkehatchie camp. We'll be hosting our 6th camp. Check here for regular updates from the Camp Director.

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July 6, 2008

Less than two weeks before camp. We'll be ready when the campers arrive on July 19th. But it has seemed like we've been running behind schedule getting ready for the camp. I'm not really sure why.

One of the possible reasons is that we've had to deal with a great deal more change at this camp then we have in the past years. First of all, we will be in a new facility this year. Huntersville United Methodist Church moved into their new building in April of this year. It's a magnificent facility. It's lot a roomier than the old church (with the added bonus of having air conditioning that actually works). But we've had to rethink how we conduct the camp. Where will everyone sleep? Where will we meet in the evening? There'll be new rules about where campers can go during breaks in the schedule. All of this stuff was easy enough to figure out ... it just took some time.

I think that we'd become a little spoiled at the old church. The last couple of years required almost no planning of any kind since we pretty much had everything figured out. Last year we barely even had a planning meeting. Nothing like a little change to raise he anxiety level a bit.

The other change is that we will be having a new worship leader at this year's camp. With all the new work associated with moving into a new facility Pastor Billy Rintz approached me a few months ago and asked if he could take a break from Salkehathice this year. Of course I agreed. We're fortunate to have found a very capable replacement in Vance Lowe. Vance is the pastor at First UMC in China Grove and he's attended every one of our camps. He'll be a great worship leader.

As we have the past few years we'll be working on five homes this year. Last year our five homes were in the same neighborhood, all within walking distance of each other. We've taken a completely different approach this year. We'll work on a home in Charlotte, a home in Davidson and three homes in Huntersville. No walking tour of the homes this year.

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July 19, 2008

Be Early and Make the Camp Director Happy

I guess we're all known for different things. One of things I'm known for (or so I'm told) is a rather zealous fixation with being on time or even early. Mona calls me a clock-nazi. In my letter to the camp attendees I said that we asked that they arrive between 1:30pm and 3:00pm for registration. We'd have an orientation at 3:00pm followed by the home tour from 3:30pm to 5:30pm.

At 1:30pm 52 of the 59 registered campers had arrived, gotten registered and had selected and arranged their sleeping area. To me, the clock-nazi, it was a great way to start the camp. The last few campers arrived within the next 60 minutes. We were able to start early and actually left the church for the tour about 20 minutes before our scheduled start.

Last year we had selected five homes within a single neighborhood. The home tour was conducted on foot. This year we've taken a completely different approach. We are doing five homes again but we'll have three in Huntersville and one each in Davidson and Charlotte. The furthest distance between two of the homes is approximately 20 miles. The entire home tour covers 46 miles.

This tour took almost 3 hours. Because we were able to start early we managed to stay rather close to our originally published schedule.

Pastor Billy Rintz, Vicki Rintz and Rehnea Raines prepared supper for us when we got back to the church.

In the evening Vance Lowe, Perry Brittain and Larry Hawkey led our program. On Saturday we tend to keep the program rather light and use it as an opportunity to get to know each better. Larry was designated our Game Master and he did a great job getting everyone involved. Perry, as always, did a great job with the music.

At the end of the evening, the adults got together to figure out the youth teams. It took a little longer than it has in past years. A lot of experience site leaders may have been the reason for that. As it was, every team left the room happy (mostly) with their teams

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July 20, 2008

I'm the Camp Director so Leave Me Alone

As far as the Camp Director is concerned Sunday is a pretty easy day. When the youth get up Sunday morning they can see a posting of each of the teams and they know immediately which site they will be working on. From that point forward they do everything with their team. It starts with the Sunday morning visit with their homeowner.

At that point, I leave everything in the hands of the Site Leaders and their adult teams to make sure that everyone is where they are supposed to be and doing what they are supposed to be doing. My stock answer to any question is "You have a site leader, ask him!" Of course, that's not quite true but during the week site leaders have a huge responsibility that goes beyond just leading the building projects.

On Sunday morning all the home visits seemed to go well. The teams came back to the church pumped up and ready to start work the next day. I was able to go home and give my cat his insulin shot and get my kids to church. The campers sat all together in the worship service and for me, it was my first opportunity to view a service within our new sanctuary. Since we moved into this building I've been part of the production team that runs the videos and cameras during the worship service. We do that from a room that's outside the Worship Center. My worship experience, to this point, had been via a 15" monitor and speakers. It was cool to be in the worship center for the first time.

On Sunday afternoon we got everyone together for a couple of hours of organized activities. Chris Barrett led that camp in cool team building activities. Check out the Picture Gallery and the Video Gallery to see some of the stuff we did. The video with Larry Hawkey is hilarious.

We had dinner at the Ranson House. Rehnea and Billy Raines were gracious enough to open up their home to us. Rehnea and Billy own the Ranson House which is not only their home but a destination for weddings and corporate events. We also had our evening program there. We use the evening program to commission the campers. Our necklace this year is a cross crafted from two masonry nails. Mona and Vance did a great job putting them together.

When we got back to the church the adults met for about an hour to go over the logistics for the upcoming week. The discussion included maps of various locations, a discussion of the procedures for purchasing supplies, what to do in the event of a medical emergency etc. It's a long meeting but a worthwhile and necessary one.

On Sunday nights after the meeting I'm usually a little pensive as I think of the upcoming week. The planning is over and my job for the most part is done. I'm confident in the adult leadership in this camp. Nevertheless, you never know what the week is going to bring.

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July 21, 2008

The Phone Calls Tell the Tale

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is "How's it going?" Of course, people are referring to the camp and how are the projects coming along. On the first day, I actually the worst person to ask since I really have no idea until I've had a chance to visit all the sites. If I'm not there I have no clue.

However, I've learned over the previous five years that you get get a reading on what's going on by the phone calls you receive. For example, last year I received a call from Baker Ratliff, the site leader for the Gabriel home at 8:30am on Monday morning ... "Jerry, we have a major problem". That's usually a sign that stuff isn't going quite as well. However, I should also note that if you are going to have a major problem it's better to get it on Monday morning rather than Friday morning.

By comparison, here's a sampling of the calls I received this morning. The first call I received came at 7:14am (rather early by anyone's standards). It was from Beth Carlton ... "Jerry, when is the porto-pottie coming?". I suggested to Beth that perhaps she should have taken care of that before she left the church. As it turns out, she was really concerned since they were about to shut off the water and that a porto-pottie had better be on the way. It did arrive by 9:00am.

The next call came from Mona at 9:15am .... "Jerry, I need gloves ... Me: "Don't you have gloves" ... Mona: "Yes I do, but they are both for the left hand" .... Jerry: (sigh)

The best one of the morning came from Wanda Watts at 9:54am ... "Jerry, I have no idea where I am!". Wanda had gotten lost on her way from Lowe's to her house. I was able to get her back to the Robinson home.

My point in bringing these examples is that it seemed everything was going well. If the only calls I'm getting are rather minor in nature (or if I'm getting no calls at all) it's generally a very good sign. No news is usually good news.

We had lunch at Christ Community Church. It was pasta. Excellent as always. They are always great.

I visited all the homes over the course of the day. I learned very quickly that if I was planning to visit all the homes I needed to get an early start. Forty-five miles is a lot to cover and while I'll visit every home at least once a day, I won't be able to visit them two and three times as I did last year.

The teams and especially the youth came back to the church rather pumped up. Something about spending the day with a sledge hammer and a crow bar that brings out enthusiasm in the youth.

No injuries to report on the first day, unless you count Carl's chipped tooth.

Vance led the evening program with music from Jeremy Morris. They did a great job.

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July 22, 2008

It's All About the List

"What did you do today?" I get this question a lot. It usually comes from the youth who probably wonder what I do all day. While they are working hard and losing five pounds in the heat they probably do wonder what the Camp Director is doing with his time.

I guess the best answer is, as little as possible. Most of my work is done in the months and weeks leading up to the camp. Mona and I put a lot of energy into planning the details around the camp along with our core team. When the camp rolls around there isn't much left to do except to watch it all unfold.

I have taken to carrying a clipboard around me during the day. On that clipboard I keep a list of things that I need to do during the day. That list usually starts off rather pristine when I get up in the morning. However, like the phone calls, it's a pretty good barometer of how my day is going. Here's today's list:

  • Moore & Robinson lunch: I needed to find out if the Moore and Robinson families were going to provide lunch for their teams on Friday. If yes, then we needed to inform Assurance UMC that there would be 25 people less for lunch on Friday
  • Dan Ranson: Reminder to call Dan Ranson to see if we can get smoke detectors donated from the VFD.
  • Beth Carlton - Needs Sleeping Bag: Reminder that it's not only the youth that can't pack properly!
  • Radio for the Pharr team: Pharr team needed radio or iPod player. Apparently the site was too quiet or they had no other way to drown out Carl's voice.
  • Mona - Circular Saw: Mona had left the circular saw in our garage. Could I get it?
  • Cake at 4:00pm: The owner of the Moore home was celebrating her birthday. I brought a birthday cake over at 4:00pm.

At the end of the day Mona was sitting in my office. She's had another physically tough day (as had everyone). 99F will do that to a person. She also had dropped an 8x4 sheet of particle board on her foot and suspected she had broken it (her foot, not the particle board ... as it turned out, it was only a bad bruise). She happend to be looking over my list which was just sitting on my desk. She looked over at me and said in a rather sneering tone "Looks like you had a tough day".

It's good to be the Camp Director.

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July 23, 2008

Wednesday's Can Be Difficult

In 2003, when we had our first camp, we were understandably nervous about everything related to the camp. On Tuesday night I was beginning to relax because it seemed that things were going relatively smoothy. Logistically, there were no glitches. However, on Wednesday, things began to go off the rails. We had one particularly memorable personnel issue and one of our projects really getting into trouble. From beginning to end it was a very challenging day. When Billy Rintz made his closing remarks on Saturday he described Wednesday as the "only day I didn't see the Camp Director smile."

Since then I've become considerably more relaxed about the camp. However, I'm still usually wary of Wednesdays. If things are going to go wrong, Wednesday seems to be the magic day.

About 10:30am I got a call from Mona ... "A building inspector dropped by, I gotta run .... will get back to you later". About 15 minutes later she called me back .... "We've been told to stop all work". It turns out we needed to get some permits to resume work. There was still lots of work to be done that didn't require a permit so the team kept busy for the rest of the day.

A little after 3:00pm I got another call from Mona .... "I'm driving to Huntersville, meet me in the ER". Cody Shores was using a hammer stapler and tried to staple his thumb to a piece of wood. It wasn't pretty. But fortunately, the staple didn't strike the bone and despite having a split thumbnail Cody didn't need any stitches. When Cody was finished up at the hospital I took him back to the Redfearn home.

Thankfully, everything seemed to be progressing at the other sites.

In the evening the whole camp went down to the Redfearn site for dinner. Early in the week Mrs Redfearn had invited the whole camp for dinner on Wednesday night. Joan's mission for the past six years has been to feed the hungry on Wednesday evenings. She and her husband had been doing this June 2002. Joan's husband passed away early in 2008 and she was left to carry on the mission on her own. When Joan had originally extended her offer I had thought that just the Redfearn team would having dinner at Joan's. On Tuesday evening at the adult meeting it became apparent that all teams were interested in taking Joan up on her offer. This presented us with some logistics issues. We had to figure out what would happen with the dinner that was planned for us at the church as well as figuring out how some teams would get showers. Ann Gibert was looking after dinner for Wednesday evening so she arranged for the food to be taken down to Joan's home in Charlotte. A couple of the teams just decided that they would take their showers when they got back to the church.

It was a great evening. We consecrated the new kitchen addition ... Joan began referring to it as the Roosevelt wing, naming it after her late husband. Billy Rintz also attended and participated in the evening.

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July 24, 2008

I'm Beginning to Hate Showers

In the weeks and months leading up to our first camp in 2003 we had a lot of things to think about. As hard as it is for me to believe today we actually spent a few months looking for a facility to host our camp. We eventually "settled" for the church. It was the best non-move we ever made.

The other big issue was figuring out where we have the campers take their showers. We considered various ideas and even thought about bringing in some portable showers. Eventually we able to reach out to the various community pools in the area and we used their showers. Although we weren't sure if this was a great solution it seemed to work. Once the week started I never heard any further complaints.

For some reason, during the past three years, the showers have been a constant source of irritation. They have either been cold or someone hasn't shown up to open the doors. It would seem I would get a call everyday from some team regarding some shower problem.

This year we were excited about moving into a new facility. When we first got a look at the plans for the new church Mona and I were pleased to see that there would be six showers. Finally, would could stop worrying about the showers. We figured we could have three teams shower at the church and the other two teams shower at a local soccer club. The club had 10 showers and last year it worked out great.

We I guess, we did have something to worry about. The showers at the church had never been used prior to our camp. We were mildly concerned whether the water heater could handle about 35 campers. That turned out to be the least of our worries. It seems the contractor who built the shower built the shower with with a perfectly flat floor. When everyone started showering the water didn't drain properly and instead poured out into the rest of the bathroom. We spent a lot of time cleaning up the bathroom floors.

To make matters worse the soccer club seemed to forget to turn on the water heater. Everyone got a cold shower.

Maybe next year.

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July 25, 2008

It's Friday!

Every year the week seems to go faster than the previous year. Friday's come quickly. And it's always good.

On Thursday night the youth seemed rather subdued. It's been very hot this year so they are somewhat worn out. In addition, one of the teams (Tindal) had a rather late night and then left early on Friday.

Friday seemed rather hectic for most of the teams as they attempted to get the projects completed. By early in the afternoon it became apparent that four of the teams would get most of their projects completed. We knew at the beginning of the week that the Redfearn home would extend beyond the week. A kitchen and bathroom addition was certainly ambitious so there was no surprise there.

As we anticipated the tour of homes took close to three hours. The round trip was about 46 miles and on Friday afternoon that takes time. We started at the Tindal home since that team would finish last. Starting there meant they could be there until the last minute.

We had our communion & symbol service Friday evening and it was great. Jeremy and Vance did a great job as they had all week leading the program.

I was tired. I somehow had to stay up long enough to put our final powerpoint together. In addition, Dylan Morrison and I did an interview for Salkehatchie Radio. He did a great job. We hadn't been able to to any on-site interviews this year since I misplaced my MP3 recorder. The one I ordered on eBay never arrived on time.

I was getting caught up on a number of things and about 3:00am I hadn't started the powerpoint. And I was barely keeping my eyes open. So I decided to go to sleep and get up at 5:00am to do the powerpoint.