Photo by Heather Middleton
By Curt Yeomans
Twenty-six children from Clayton, Henry and Fayette counties are ending nearly two months of Salvation Army summer camp this week, by "raising the roof" for God.
The children have been attending the camp, at the Salvation Army's Jonesboro Citadel, since June 1. They are capping it off this week with performances of their camp musical, "Ship Shape with Sailor Jackie."
In keeping with the Salvation Army's focus as a faith-based group, the musical uses a nautical theme to talk about Christian beliefs -- albeit mainly in song.
During the musical, "Sailor Jackie" leads a group of other "sailors" on a trip. Along the way, a muscle-bound "sailor," named "Steven Seagull," discovers the Bible, and its religious teachings. Children participating in the performance said they enjoyed the experience, because it gave them an opportunity to share their religious beliefs with other people.
"I just enjoy spreading the word about God, and letting them enjoy a good performance," said Jonesboro youth, Markquiesh Motley, 12. Motley played "Steven Seagull" in the musical.
Today marks the last day of the camp, although the campers will gather once more on Saturday to perform "Ship Shape with Sailor Jackie" for their parents, according to camp coordinator, Melissa Cordova.
Local children were invited to see a performance of the musical on Thursday, as part of the summer programing the Jonesboro branch of the Clayton County Library System is coordinating for every Thursday morning this summer. "I liked the songs, and the boy with the muscles was funny, too," said Khamilah Kimble, 12, of Riverdale. Another audience member, Arie Terrell, 8, also from Riverdale, added that, "It was good. I liked the songs, because I like to sing."
But, for all of the jumping, singing and roof-raising that takes place during the musical, it still represents an end, because it is the Salvation Army summer camp's final activity for this year.
In all, Cordova said, there were 40 children who participated in the camp, although some of them are not participating in the end-of-camp musical, because their families decided to go on vacation this week. "It went really fast this year, it's hard to believe it's over already," she said.
Cordova said the theme for this year's camp was "High Seas Expedition." She said campers spent the last eight weeks doing Bible study, arts-and-crafts activities, weekly trips to the Steve Lundquist Aquatic Center, in Jonesboro, and going on field trips to a movie theater, a skating rink, High Falls Water Park, and the Chick-fil-A headquarters in Atlanta.
"My favorite field trip was to the skating rink, because it was a chance to hang out with friends, skate and have fun together," said Alyssa Weldon, 10, of Jonesboro.
Cordova said there are also weekly music sessions, in which the children sing songs from a different decades, each week. They also dress up in period clothes for the decade they are highlighting, she said.
But, the highlight of the camp, for at least some campers, was the religious studies aspect they engaged in every day. "It's been a lot of fun," said Morrow's Makinsey Rosser, 12. "We do a devotional everyday, so we can learn about God. Everyone here is generous, and kind, so we all have a good time, and I'm going to miss everyone when it's over."
Piper Brown, 9, of McDonough, added that she learned about the teachings of Jesus. "It's been really good, so far, learning about Jesus," Brown said. "I learned that he helped people all over the world ... I'm going to miss my friends [after camp is over], and all the things we learned about God."