Hello, my amazing rays of sunshine that truly inspire and continue to add daily warmth to my presence in the world each and every day with just the mere thought of creating a blog post or longing to dive to read all of yours.
I truly apologize for my lack of presence of late! I have been throwing myself into a ton of creative endeavors both personal and work-related (mostly work-related). You see, the school summer camp program I’m working in is serving low-income families. Many of these kids don’t get to go on vacation, their families may be struggling financially, and their parents may be working long hours every day to help their families get by. Getting to know and let these kid’s and their personal stories touch my heart, fills me with a desire and need to make their summer full of fun creative activities and memories to take with them as they grow.
My family struggled financially growing up. My parents worked long hours to provide for us. We were blessed to have our parents, programs, family members, and individuals in our community that made sure we always had food in our stomachs and a roof over our heads. We didn’t have a lot, but I was blessed to live in a small town community with friends my own age and nature waiting right outside my back door. My mom also instilled in me an appreciation for helping others, nature, books, music, and all things creative from crafts, cooking, baking, drawing, writing…the list could go on and on.
I honestly believe it’s important to expose kids to a broad range of literature, music, and art to help them foster grow their own sense of natural creativity and curiosity. I believe these traits are at the heart of helping us build resilience, confidence, and a sense to build the foundation for contributing to the world from a place of love, kindness, and compassion. That said, this is at the heart of the reason why I’ve been diving in to create activities to inspire and touch the hearts of the youth I’m serving.
Maryanne, my close friend, that I consider family, has been working over 8 years with the youth and teachers at the school where the summer program is being held. She has a true heart of gold and inspires me with her loving, compassionate, and giving heart. She truly does what she can to give back as she has her own stories of difficulties in her life and knows the importance and value of contributing to the community and doing what she can to help others from running food drives, toy drives, to providing her kitchen talents for the needs of others or as an honest to goodness gesture from her heart.
As we’ve worked together doing this summer program at her school the last two (not to mention assisting her with other events at her school offering my creative skills or just a helping hand) her loving and giving energy has inspired me to use my talents to help the kids gain as much from the summer as I can. Though, we always remind each other to take time for ourselves and families as well, as we both know that we can’t help others if we don’t first take care of ourselves.
Last summer we worked (with our third musketeer) to plan a big 4th of July event for the summer program. We didn’t have a lot of funds to work with, but we knew it wasn’t about the money we spent, but the experience we created. We planned relay, water and of course educational games for the kids to play, there was popcorn and flavored ice, and of course a creative station to make festive bracelets and write letters to the troops. This year we aimed to out do last year, as we had learned from experience on what worked well and what didn’t.
This year we had outdoor stations for food and games, which sadly I didn’t get pictures of. However, I will try to see if anyone else took outside pictures that I can use here on the blog. Inside I ran the creative station making cards for the troops and friendship bracelets (which was a huge hit). We had a wonderful team, teachers, individuals that I work with, and volunteers from the community to make it an amazing success.
We also wanted to make sure we had things that the students could take home with them besides the friendship bracelets. We made sure they had prizes they could win, which both Maryanne and I both contributed to. We were able to contribute, jewelry, hair bands, little toys, crocheted mug warmers, bows, and bracelets. I previously mentioned going through old artwork and contributed a pile character design, abstract, and fan art, as well as some, sketches I recently did on some canvas book covers.
All-in-all it was a fun day for the kids and a reminder of the importance of thanking those that dedicated their lives to keeping our country safe as well as those that fought for our freedom (past and present alike).