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Salkehatchie Summer Service
Huntersville Camp 2009
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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June 11, 2009
June 15, 2009
July 5, 2009
July 18, 2009
July 19, 2009
July 20, 2009
July 21, 2009


May 24, 2009 - Huntersville, North Carolina

It's time to start getting ready for another Salkehatchie camp. We'll be hosting our 7th camp. Check here for regular updates from the Camp Director.

June 11, 2009

It's Good to Be Reminded

Just 37 days before the start of camp. Not a lot of time, but enough time to get everything ready for the start of camp.

Planning for the camp started several months ago but I've been slow to write about it. That being said, there has a been familiar rhythm to getting the camp up and running again this year. After taking a break from Salkehatchie the last few months of 2008 planning for the 2009 camp began in January. However, to be accurate, you can substitute "thinking about" for "planning" since tangible steps aren't really taken until a few months later.

Over the past two years there's been a lack of enthusiasm for the camp in the early part of the year as we've begun the planning cycle. I'm not exactly sure why that's been the case but it's been harder to get energized for the camp. If I were to speculate as to the reasons I could point to a couple of things:

  • Increased Family Commitments ... Kids activities do play a part. As Natalia's commitment to soccer has increased it's taken up more and more of our weekends. Her season doesn't end until the weekend before Memorial Day. As such we can't get too focused on the camp until then. We wouldn't give this up since we love it. As anybody who's seen my soccer pictures on Facebook will tell you I have a psychotic need to document everything. Then again, anybody who's seen my pictures on this site already knows that.
  • Work ... The job has been very demanding for the past year. The economy hasn't helped. It's definitely been a distraction and hasn't helped my overall mood. As a result, work related issues have taken up a lot of my time.
  • Are We Burning Out? ... I do wonder about this. We're now in our seventh year and while the camp is not a 12 month commitment it can at times feel that way. We don't do any travelling in the summer as the camp approaches and the weeks following the camp are often consumed with getting projects completed. It doesn't leave us much opportunity for any downtime.

However, when May or June start to roll around the enthusiasm starts to come back. And that's a good thing. This year I can point to the exact moment that I started to get excited again about the camp. During the registration process each camper fills out some forms with a variety of information. Most of it is rather mundane like name, address and insurance information. However, the SC Conference asks the campers the following question:

Why have you chosen to participate in Salkehatchie Summer Service?

While going through the paper work for the campers I came across the following responses:

From a first-time attendee whose daughter has attended the past 5 years:

This will be my daughter's sixth year and she has asked me to participate this year so I can get first hand experience (about) the best thing in her life.

From a young girl who attended the camp for the first time last year:

I went last year and it is the closest I have ever felt to God.

It's good to be reminded at times why we do this. Yes, it's a lot of work and at times we're not sure how we balance this and other priorities. But good people come to this camp. And when we think of those who'll we get to see again and the work that we all will do it's hard not to get enthusiastic again. Our seventh camp is just around the corner. We'll be ready.

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June 15, 2009

Durham On My Mind

On this page we typically talk about our preparations for the Huntersville Camp (and we do have lots to say about it) but today we're thinking about the Durham Camp. They are holding their first camp this year and the campers arrived two days ago. Today is their first day of work.

Larry, Katie, Sharon, Beth, Hunter and many others at McMannen UMC have been planning this for about 18 months. Today should be an exciting day for them. They have just over 20 folks in camp and they will be working on two homes. Like any Salkehatchie camp they will have their ups and downs (that's half the fun isn't it) but I know they are up to it. Take some time to visit their webpage at Salkehatchie Durham and check out what they are up to. From that page you can send a message to any of the campers to let them know you are supporting them. We'll keep them in our prayers this week.

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July 5, 2009

Props to the Durham and Shelby Camps.

During the 3rd and 4th weeks of June McMannen UMC in Durham, NC and Lafayette St UMC in Shelby, NC hosted Salkehatchie Camps. It was the first camp ever in Durham and the third camp for Shelby.

The Durham camp was planned for almost two years. McMannen UMC has been sending their youth to Salkehatchie since 2002 when a group of about 5 youths and 1 adult attended the Salkehatchie camp in Camden, SC. The youth leader was Laura Pascal who had attended a number of Salkehatchie camps as a youth and an adult. Circumstances eventually lead her to Durham where she became a member of McMannen and coaxed a few youth to attend a Salkehatchie Camp. In 2003 Laura brought a group of youth to the first ever Salkehatchie Camp in Huntersville NC. One of those youths was a 14 year old by the name of Robert Dobbins who has attended every Huntersville camp since that first one (as well as a few in Shelby). This year Robert will be an adult site leader for the second year.

Over the years McMannen UMC's participation in Salkehatchie grew to the point that they were sending youths to three camps (Huntersville, Camden & Shelby) during the summer. It was probably inevitable that they would one day start their own camp. After much planning they hosted about 21 youth and adults for their first camp. They worked on two homes and had a fantastic week. Larry Hawkey is the Camp Director for the Durham camp but he also had a lot of support from Salkehatchie veterans like Sharon Hilliard, Hunter, Katie & Hillary Wagstaff, Beth Carlton, Keith Eudy and many others. It wasn't much of surprise that the camp went so well. I had the opportunity to go on the home tour at the close of the week. The teams did a phenomenal job on the homes and there were a couple of excited homeowners.

The following week Lafayette St UMC hosted their third camp in Shelby, NC. Camp Director Tresca Hollis and her team did another great job in hosting a Salkehatchie camp. Her camp had 41 youth and 15 adult attendees and over the week they worked on four homes in the local area. I guess that no week at Salkehatchie is completely routine but it's obvious that with three camps under their belts the Shelby team is starting to make it look easy. I can tell you that a lot of work goes on in the background but there's a strong team in Shelby that will hopefully put on many camps in the future.

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Some Thoughts on This Year's Camp

Our 7th camp in Huntersville is just 13 days away. Parts of every single day between now and the start of camp will be spent in preparation for the camp. We could probably start the camp tomorrow if we needed to but we do have some details to work through. Nothing major, just a few loose ends here and there.

Getting ready for the evening program in the youth lounge

There will some differences in our setup this year. Since we'll have about 70 people staying at the church every evening we have had to modify our sleeping arrangements. We will be using the Youth Lounge as sleeping space to accomadate the extra people. Last year, the Youth Lounge was used as meeting space. As such we will have our nightly evening meetings in the Fellowship Hall. The Fellowship Hall is also where we'll have our meals. That will mean that we'll need to move tables and chairs around between dinner and our program for every evening that we have an evening program in the church.

I'll miss not having the Youth Lounge for the evening meetings. It was the exact right size and it had a lot of comfy chairs and couches. But I know that we'll make the Fellowship Hall work.

Since last year Huntersville UMC has added two additional morning services. The services are now at 8:45am, 9:45am and 11:00am. The 8:45am service is normally held in the Youth Lounge. However that won't happen during the week of Salkehatchie. The 8:45am service will instead be held in the Fellowship Hall. In response to that we'll have an earlier breakfast (7:45am rather than 8:00am) on Sunday morning. This allows us to clear out at 8:30am allowing the service to start on schedule at 8:45am.

The campers enjoy the front porch of the Ranson House

On Sunday afternoon we're going to have an outing at a local bowling alley. We've not tried this before but we think it can be some fun. We've got 12 lanes reserved at NorthCross Lanes and we'll be able to get two games of bowling and shoes for $7. It should be a good time leading up to dinner at the Ranson House. Once again Billy and Rehnea Raines have graciously opened their home to us for dinner on Sunday evening.

A couple of weeks ago we finally settled on the homes that we would be working on. Because we had some many people in camp we seriously considered working on six homes rather than five. But the more we looked at it the more it seemed to be financially unviable. Sometime around June 1st we decided we would do five homes. With 31 adults in camp it meant that each team would have 5-6 adults. However, we would have the usual number of youth (8-9) per home. Once we realized that we wouldn't have an unusually high number of youth per team we decided to move ahead with 5 homes.

In 2007 we worked on five homes in the Cornelius neighborhood of Smithfield. It was one of the best camps we've had. All five homes were within walking distance of one another and our Friday night worship was held at Bethel United AME Zion Church. The church served us dinner, hosted our worship service and it was a great event. This year, four out of the five homes we are working on will be in the same Cornelius neighborhood. The good people at Bethel United AME Zion Church will be hosting us again for dinner and worship on Friday night. We look forward to another great evening.

The Homeowners Are Looking Forward to This

Occasionally I am reminded of how much the week of Salkehatchie means to homeowners. During our recent adult meeting on June 27th one of this year's homeowners told me how happy she was that we had agreed to work with her. During the tour of homes she told me that on the day after I told her we could work with her, she woke up at 4:00am with tears in her eyes. She couldn't believe that she was so blessed.

But then again, we have all been blessed by this mission. We're looking forward to a great week.

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July 18, 2009

Another Salkehatchie Camp has come to Huntersville. I had a little trouble sleeping Friday night. At 11pm Friday I was delivering some stuff to the church. I went home but ended up getting up a 5:00am and after showering and doing some light packing I was at the church at 6:30am getting ready.

I set up my office and made sure I could get connected to Internet. I also installed my printer and posted a few signs around the church. At about 8:00am I got a call from Natalia as I had instructed her to when she got up. I then went and picked her up and continued our Saturday morning ritual of going to Waffle House. (Pecan waffle dark ... in case anyone asks).

Billy Rintz and John Ballentine arrived simultaneously. Billy was able to give me a water key which allowed me to hook up the shower trailer to the church's water supply.

In our schedule we said there would be 1:30 - 3:00pm check-in time. Campers started arriving shortly before noon. By 12:30 three quarters of the camp had already arrived.

Everyone arrived by 3:00pm and we left for our home tour precisely at 3:30pm. We were finished by about 5:15pm. Everything went according to schedule. The homeowners were very excited.

After a great dinner of baked ziti (thanks Vicki) Billy Rintz and Perry Brittain lead a program of music and some good fun. Billy put together an Olympiad that featured events such as the javelin thrown, shot put and chariot race. We all had a great time.

In the evening the adults met and formed the teams using the input of the youth. Everyone seems pretty pleased with their team.

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July 19, 2009

Tired, Tired, Tired

There is a bit of a perception that I don't get any sleep during the week of Salkehatchie. And while I will have some late night nights and early mornings I get more sleep than some people might think. I've learned over the years that I can't work late into the night every night. In fact, I can't do it even two nights in a row.

On Friday night I went to bed late and got up about 5:00am. My plan of course was to get a good night's sleep last night (Saturday). It was a great plan. As it was I worked on some website stuff until 2:00am and then when I tried to sleep I wasn't able to. So consequently I'm operating on Sunday on about 1 hour's sleep. It's going to be a real long week if I don't get a decent rest Sunday night.

As for the important stuff we've had a very good weekend. The weekend is all about logistics; getting the campers where they need to be when they need to be there. We tend to run them ragged on the weekend and it becomes important to be very co-ordinated with respect to time and location.

On Sunday, for example, we started with breakfast at 7:45am. Breakfast needed to be completed by 8:30am so the space could be prepared for the 8:45am worship. The 8:45am worship is normally held in the Youth Lounge but the Youth Lounge is sleeping space during the week of Salkehatchie. At 9:00am the teams are off to see their homeowners. Worship is at 11:00am followed by lunch at 12:15pm, camp & team pictures at 1:30pm, activities in the worship center (chairs have been cleared out after worship) and then off to the bowling lanes at 3:00pm. Everything went very smoothly.

In the past we've always debated what to do on Sunday afternoon. This year we decided to dedicate it to some team building activities. Sharon Hilliard got them together in the worship center for about an hour and everyone had a great time. We also set up some time at the local bowling alley where everyone bowled with their teams. Everyone seemed to have a great time.

We had dinner again at the Ranson House which is operated by Billy & Rehnea Raines. It was a great place to have dinner. At the conclusion of dinner Perry Brittain and Billy Rintz put on the evening program. As usual, they did a great job. We all went back to the church ready for the week ahead.

When we got back to the church we had the adult meeting. The Sunday meeting is always the longest of the week. Lots of logistics get discussed. I guess we're getting better at it. We got out of there in about an hour.

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July 20, 2009

It Won't Take Long To Set The Tone

Monday is always an intersting day. First of all, it's an exciting day. Everyone is ready to go. But from my perspective I always want to know quickly if something is going to go off the rails. We find out quickly if we have messed up something in our planning.

Here's how my day started out:

  • 5:00am - Alarm goes off
  • 5:15am - Leave message for ElectiCities - "Why are the protective sleeves on the homes?"
  • 5:30am - Print off messages to campers - there's about 75 to print
  • 5:55am - Take messages to the Fellowship Hall and lay them out on a table
  • 6:00am - Wake up campers
  • 6:02am - Gave Beth Carlton check to give to the porto-pottie people when they delivered
  • 6:30am - Open the back doors of the church -- oops, had forgotten to do that
  • 6:40am - Unload pressure washer from back of my van into Frank's truck
  • 6:45am - Gobble down breakfast
  • 7:00am - Call Lowes to get Byron Alexander onto the Buyer's List. Lowes insists on a fax.
  • 7:30am - Hand deliver hard copy of request to get Byron Alexander added to Buyer's List at Lowes and then drive back to church
  • 7:36am - Speak to Byron to let him know he's ready to purchase stuff at Lowes
  • 8:00am - Start working on pictures for the website
  • 8:10am - Call from Karen Anzola -- wanted to know when her daughter Diana needed to be at the worksites. Diana is taking videos.
  • 8:15am - Check my voicemail -- ElectriCities calls to say they messed up -- apologize profusely and say they'll get right on it
  • 8:30am - Push the button on my laptop to begin uploading 116 pictures to the website ... it takes 30 minutes to complete
  • 8:40am - I leave a message for Ann Gibert regarding evening snacks
  • 8:43am - Byron called to ask if he needed a credit card for the Lowes account -- No he didn't
  • 8:55am - Robert Dobbins called asking about the roofing supplies
  • 8:56am - ElectriCities called again to say that workers had been dispatched
  • 9:03am - I called Bob Sims (our electrician) to see when he might get out to the sites -- he was already at the Black house - Bob Sims is awesome
  • 9:04am - Took some maps to Teri Mellen - church secretary
  • 9:15am - Beth Carlton called to ask for the number of plumber
  • 9:16am - I called Dan Ranson to get the number of the plumber
  • 9:21am - Called Beth Carlton with the number of the plumber
  • 9:25am - Was informed by church staff the HUMC van was needed by HUMC youth at 5:30pm on Friday. We'd have to get it to the church by then.

It was a busy stretch of time. But at 9:30am the calls stopped .... completely. I might have taken two additional calls for the remainder of the day. And that was a good sign. It meant there was nothing going on that needed my attention. I spent most of the day touring the sites and taking pictures.

A lot of good work got done. The weather was unbelievable for this time of year. I stayed in the 70's during the morning and hit the mid-80's in the afternoon. We couldn't have asked for better. We might need to deal with rain during the week but so far, so good.

In the evening Billy Rintz & Darren Gann lead the program of music and worship. It was a great evening. Billy talked about each of us carrying each other's burden.

At the adult meeting the overall feedback on the day was very positive. Everyone was grateful for the plumbers and everyone felt the work was progressing well. There were some comments regarding the size of the teams ... they are big. But overall, everything seems to be working the way it should.

It was a great start to the work week!

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July 20, 2009

Good Progress and A Few Close Calls

Tuesdays are usually the easiest days at Salkehatchie. There's lots of enthusiasm because of the previous day's work, most of the work week is still in front of you and you still have a lot of energy left. There are really no stress-free days at camp but if there is one it's usually Tuesday.

All the teams seemed to make good progrss today. All the site leaders seemed pleased with the progress they made with the exception of Carl (Cathcart Team) who would have liked to have been further along. But I've never known Carl to be satisfied with his progress. He bites off a lot and might stress over it but in the end his teams get the job done.

The weather again proved to be great (mostly, but more on that later) so I'm hoping the teams will maintain their energy levels over the course of the week. There hasn't been the punishing heat and humidity we've experienced in past years.

We did have an injury today and one young lady turned her ankle and it looks like she might need to take a day or two off. Nothing serious but it's rather tender at the moment. I guess it could have been worse.

Late in the day we had a storm pass through. I happened to be at the Black hom, on the roof, when it happened. The roof on the west side of the home was wide open with most of the sheathing removed. As the storm moved in site leader Robert Dobbins had his team lay out the tarp quickly. I, along with the rest of the roofing team, got wet as we secured the tarp. The storm passed in about 20 minutes and the house was fine. The team continued their work.

Over the course of the day I received a lot of positive feedback about the plumbers. Tri-Meck Mechanical had made their plumbers available free of charge and they were doing a great job. In the past, we've continually had challenges with plumbing and having professionals on board was a great help.

We're looking forward to a great rest of the week!

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