Reaching the community

Campers celebrate by piling on their group leader after their group won a game July 21 at WinShape summer camp hosted by Double Oak Community Church.

Campers celebrate by piling on their group leader after their group won a game July 21 at WinShape summer camp hosted by Double Oak Community Church.

Double Oak Community Church hosts WinShape camp

Story by Stephen Dawkins

Photograph by Keith McCoy

Almost 400 children were greeted each morning July 18-22 at Double Oak Community Church in Mt Laurel by encouraging words, upbeat music, inflatables and games.

And the fun was only beginning.

The church hosted a week-long WinShape day camp for the second year, and Minister to Children Sandy Stephenson said enrollment grew from 273 children last year to 397 this year. Campers have completed grades 1-9.

The camp started at 7:45 each morning with attendees energized by a fun atmosphere then learning skills and lessons in faith.

“When the kids get out of the car, they are automatically engaged,” Stephenson said. “What really stands out to me is the variety of what they’re doing throughout the day and also the consistency.”

The camp was one of 95 WinShape camps across the country this year. Teams of camp counselors, which come from across the United States and even internationally, travel from location to location.

WinShape is affiliated with Chick-fil-A, as company founder Truett Cathy and his wife Jeannette created the WinShape Foundation.

The camp at Double Oak was operated by 28 staff members and 40 church volunteers.

“We do it to bring communities together,” Camp Director Jordan Nations said. “We bring the power of Jesus Christ to kids, and then they bring it to families.”

Stephenson said offering the camp is important to church leaders because it is an opportunity to share Jesus with the community, shows generosity and enhances the perception of the church.

“We want our community to know we’re not just a club,” she said. “You don’t have to be church members to participate.”

The church pastor is Adam Robinson.

The schedule for a typical day includes recreation time, small group Bible studies, skills sessions (campers choose from a list of 21 options such as painting, archery and theater), lunch and worship.

Eleven-year-old Molly McLemore said she enjoyed archery, flag football and dancing.

“I love how they get you out of your shell,” McLemore said.

Charlie Parham, 8, said that he enjoyed the “Wacky Science” session.

“We made some really cool stuff,” Parham said, and mentioned a bouncing ball made out of a Play-Doh type substance.

On the last day of the camp, campers and their families were treated to meals supplied by Chick-fil-A.

Stephenson said the Bible studies include actual Bible readings and that the theme has been “Follow.”

“You’re becoming like whoever you choose to follow,” Nations said. “We want to follow Jesus so that we can be like him.”