Category Archives: volunteer

2017 Camp Boost Registration is Now Open!

Registration for Camp Boost Summer Reading Clubs is now open! Camp Boost is free for any child age 4 through 5th grade completed (entering 6th grade). We’ve got a great lineup of clubs that will make reading fun, along with games, activities, breakfast and lunch, and learning from the Bible.

Camp Boost at Maiden Lane, June 26-30, 10:00-1:00: Click here to register

Camp Boost at High Street Nazarene, July 10-14, 9:00-12:30: Click here to register

Camp Boost at Clifton Avenue Church of God, July 17-21, 10:00-1:00: Click here to register

Camp Boost at St. John Missionary Baptist Church, July 24-28, 9:00-12:00: Click here to register

Want to join the Camp Boost team? We need teachers, classroom assistants, food team, registration help, and more! Learn more about getting involved with Camp Boost this summer.

Questions? Call the SCYM office at (937) 325-6183 or email scyministries@gmail.com

“I hope that I can be a positive role model to these guys”

ManPower volunteers gather each week to encourage middle school boys and teach them about what it means to be a Godly man. Here’s what some of them had to say about their time at ManPower:

“I am encouraged seeing these kids become men. My hope for as the guys are getting ready to go into high school is that they are maturing and becoming leaders in and out of the classroom and setting an example for others.” -Eli Worley

“The biggest impression that I have been given is that this is a humbling experience and all these guys are willing to listen.” -Teddy Price

A huge thank you to the Phi Psi fraternity at Wittenberg University, who have been a fantastic support to Manpower. These guys are incredible leaders with big hearts for the community!

ManPower is open to the community! If you’d like to get involved, email Tyler at scyministries@gmail.com.

What Went Down this Fall at SCYM (The Story of the Awesome Whirlwind)

Somehow we blinked, and it was December. You’ve probably been saying to yourself, “Why isn’t SCYM following their usual pace of blog posts about kids in Springfield, that I’ve grown to enjoy so much?” No doubt as you settle in with a cup of good coffee, maybe a peppermint mocha, and click our URL to check the latest news, it’s been a sad and disappointing experience.

OK, OK, you haven’t done any of those things. You had no idea that we were backlogged on blogging (backblogged?) until just now. For that matter, we’re backed up on email newsletters too, although there’s no catchy word for that.

But there’s a cool story about why we’re backblogged. Now would be a good time to grab that mocha, and settle in for a good read.

In mid-to-late August, Springfield kids go back to school. You see them traipsing around in the morning and afternoon, with their backpacks, maybe getting on the bus. For SCYM, August is ramp-up time – getting flyers out to families and schools, recruiting new and returning volunteers, planning schedules for the semester, talking with church partners, and gearing up for the start of four afterschool programs at twelve sites – one of which was new. By mid-September, STARS, GirlPower, Manpower, and Biz Ba$ics were ready to go.

Let’s pause right here. To be honest, we never know what’s going to happen next. We don’t know which kids are going to return or sign up for the first time, whether we’ll have exactly the number of volunteers we have on the right days, or exactly how it’s all going to work out. You get everything ready, you do the work, you pray a lot, and then you wait and see what happens.

Unpause. Here’s what happened next: We had an influx of kids, new and returning. A deluge, a flood, an overflow. (Thanks, thesaurus.com.) We broke every record for enrollment at every program, if we were keeping track. We had to split one of our sites into two groups so that we didn’t have to turn away 20 kids.

You may have already seen this chart in our newsletter, but this is what the last three years have looked like for SCYM afterschool programming (not counting Camp Boost, mentoring, or Wise Guys):

afterschool-growth

But here’s the thing. Even though this chart tells a great story that’s got us giving thanks to God, serving in an afterschool program doesn’t look like a chart. It looks like this:

img_4909 img_0127 20161201-dscf6767

 

That number 234? That’s 234 faces, 234 Springfield kids who have names and families and stories. 234 Springfield kids who have a safe place after school, someone who knows them and loves them, new opportunities, and stronger relationships. And hope. Most of all, hope.

Some of these 234 have experienced enormous obstacles – a parent who’s addicted or in prison, homelessness, violence on their street. Some are struggling. Some are doing OK. All of them need a friend.

We are grateful for each and every one of our kids, and for every volunteer and donor and cheerleader and partner who is on the team to serve them.

All together, we’ve served 581 Springfield kids together in 2016 – more than any year since we started in 1998. That’s WE – you, SCYM volunteers, staff, and everyone who’s rallied around these kids with the belief that they matter.

So maybe you’ve already finished that coffee. Thanks for reading the story of Fall 2016, what we now call “Growth Spurt Fall.” There’ve been more than a few growing pains: We’ve had to scramble for drivers, and make a lot of appeals for new volunteers. Our staff and volunteers have stretched more than we probably would have liked.  But we hope you give thanks to God with us for the growth.

Because we don’t doubt for a second that these kids are worth it.

Find the gold in Springfield kids this fall

If you’re like me, watching the Summer Olympics gives you all the feels: Athletes who’ve trained all their lives for this moment, parents and friends who’ve been by their side cheering them on, moments of glory and heartbreak, an athlete standing on the podium listening to their national anthem. We love it not just for the athletic skill, but for the story each individual has.

Dick’s Sporting Goods made this commercial that our staff really loved. It captures those Olympic moments and the potential inside us all. Take a look:

Even though this is just a commercial, it captures a vital truth: There is gold in every one of us, put there by our Creator. (We had no idea about the physical gold, though – that’s just cool.)

There’s gold in Springfield kids, too. The problem is that many of them don’t recognize it in themselves. Sometimes it takes someone else to recognize our gold and help us dig it out.

The best way to help a kid find their gold? Show up for them week after week, get to know them, and let them get to know you. That’s SCYM’s heart. This fall we have four different afterschool programs each week, at multiple locations, that are wonderful opportunities to get to know kids in our city who are just waiting for someone to help them find their gold. How will you help?

13988733_10154461001853685_2005439228_n14030808_10154461001888685_1529830006_nOccasional Basis Volunteer Opportunities

Kids and trauma: What I wish my 21-year-old self had known

His name was James. He was about 8 years old, with a rattail haircut and an attitude. (If you don’t remember the ‘80s or ‘90s, you really should google “rattail haircut”.)

I was 21, fresh out of college, and volunteering with my church’s Vacation Bible School. I couldn’t tell you exactly what led up to that moment. (Did I mention this was a long time ago?) But there I was on a beautiful Vermont summer day, hanging out on the church’s porch with James, trying to talk some sense into an unruly kid.

church-378652_960_720

I do have a general sense of what had happened before that: James was disruptive. He didn’t want to listen to the teacher. He was angry. He took it out on the other kids. He probably didn’t want to be at VBS at all. It was best for everyone to give him a time-out with me outside.

To my 21-year-old credit, I did at least a few things right: I looked him in the eye, sat down on the ground so I wouldn’t tower above him. I knew his name. I gave him my undivided attention. I didn’t yell. (At least I don’t think I did.) I probably talked to him about choices and consequences.

But I wish I had known some things back then.

I remember feeling like if I just said the right words, the light bulb would come on for James and he would change. I wish I had known that motivational speeches to kids in those situations are mostly a waste of breath. (I mean, you have to say something; it might as well be motivational. Just don’t expect it to do much.)

Mostly, I wish I had known about trauma. I wish I had known that 9 times out of 10, you don’t act the way James did that day if your life has been great.

I have no idea whether James had experienced trauma, but looking back I’d say there was a pretty good chance he’d had a significant loss or traumatic experience, like a parent in prison, abuse, loss of someone significant, violence in his home.

I wish I had known how trauma affects a child’s brain: That their thinking and processing abilities can’t develop correctly, because their brain is fighting so hard to protect their body and their heart. That they’re not being disobedient the way we may see it; their brain simply can’t control the impulses to meet their basic needs.

I wish instead of mustering up a motivational speech, I’d just asked some simple questions.

“You seem upset. What’s wrong?”

“Are you sad about anything?”

“Mad about anything?”

I wish I’d had something simple like a soccer ball to kick back and forth, something repetitive and calming, until James was ready to talk or go back inside. I wish I’d known that that experience – if I’d handled it better – might have been just as important to James as any lesson going on inside the building.

I wish I’d known that even though we didn’t have social work experience or fancy titles, our little church had some of the most important instruments of healing to offer a kid who’d been through trauma: Unconditional love. Safe people. Fun. Hope.

I wish I’d known that the disruptive kid who throws a wrench into our carefully planned program may be the kid who needs us the most.

I never knew James’ family or even his last name, so this is all hindsight guessing. But even though this was many years ago, I know without a doubt that Jameses are coming through many church doors today on a regular basis.

Church: I’m challenging us to stretch a little, and begin to understand trauma. Our schools, police, courts, hospitals and more are learning about trauma, and we can too. I know, in the church we like to talk about the heart and spirit more than we talk about the brain, but God made them all and we can learn.

Springfield: Trauma affects so many kids in our city. From growing up in a violent neighborhood, to parent abandonment, to family addiction, to death of a loved one, there are potentially traumatic experiences happening to our kids daily. We need to understand how trauma may affect them, and what we can do to help.

It’s as simple as this: Focusing on what’s happened to the person, instead of what’s wrong with them. Getting to the root of the hurt that’s happened, instead of just handing out punishment.

There’s a great team of folks working on something called trauma-informed care here in Springfield, and you can expect to see more resources coming in the days ahead. We will do our best to bring them to you and help you understand how they affect churches helping kids.

There is hope for children who’ve been through trauma! And Church, we can offer that hope as we respond with love, compassion, sensitivity, and wisdom.

Faith Bosland
Executive Director

What if you gave one week to your city this summer?

Did you know that a child who can read at grade level by the third grade is unlikely ever to be involved in the criminal justice system?

And did you know that reading just six books over the summer is enough to keep most kids on track in their reading level?

IMG_5610 11709494_847132508668464_648623326711523996_n IMG_5654

Last question: What if you gave one week this summer to give Springfield kids a summer reading boost?

Join Team SCYM this summer at one of three Camp Boost Summer Reading Clubs:

July 11-15, 9:00am-12:30pm @ High Street Nazarene
July 25-29, 10:00am-1:00pm @ Clifton Avenue Church of God
July 25-29, 9:00am-12:00pm @ St. John Missionary Baptist Church

Teachers, classroom assistants, registration and food helpers are all welcome to volunteer – anyone who loves kids! There is a place for you. Watch the video below to learn more!

To get involved, just email or call the SCYM office at SCYMinistries@gmai.com or (937)325-6183. We’d love to get you plugged in serving kids! Volunteer trainings begin in June.

How to register for Camp Boost 2016!

11813497_855139381201110_3010661160950294421_n

Registration for Camp Boost Summer Reading Clubs is now open! Camp Boost is free for any child age 4 through 5th grade completed. We’ve got a great lineup of clubs that will make reading fun, along with games, activities, breakfast and lunch, and learning from the Bible.

Camp Boost at High Street Nazarene, July 11-15, 9:00-12:30. Closed — thanks for a great week!!

Camp Boost at Clifton Avenue Church of God, July 25-29: Click here to register

Camp Boost at St. John Missionary Baptist Church, July 25-29: Click here to register

Want to join the Camp Boost team? We need teachers, classroom assistants, food team, registration help, and more! Learn more about getting involved with Camp Boost this summer.

“I Just Don’t Have the Patience”

Here’s a little secret we (at SCYM) might not have told you before: When we tell other people that we work with kids, sometimes they respond like we’re Mother Teresa, or maybe an alien. Or just kind of a freak.

“Oh wow … what is that like?”

“I could never do what you do.”

And another one we get a lot: “I would never have the patience for that.”

Friends, just humor me for a moment, and allow me to push back gently on this statement for the next few hundred words or so.

I’m the first one to acknowledge that most of us have a special, God-given compassion for a particular group of people, whether it’s babies or teenagers or the unemployed, addicts or immigrants or young moms. Kids are not going to be first on everyone’s list. If you have a delight and passion for serving another group of people, that’s fantastic! Go do it!

However …

May I push back on WHY we don’t have the patience to work with kids?

Is it because kids are loud? Hyper? Kind of a mess sometimes?

Is it because they interrupt us, because they are easily distracted, because they have no appreciation for coffee or our favorite movies or music, because they aren’t great at two-way conversation? Is it because they don’t always operate according to our plan?

For older kids, is it because they brush us off, don’t think we’re cool, or are doing things we don’t know how to handle?

When you work with kids in poverty, you can add more things to the “requires patience” list: They may say inappropriate things, might not listen the first time, might not want to do their homework or group activities, might not be respectful to us or to other kids. Is that why we don’t have enough patience?

Deep down, do we lack patience because kids aren’t doing the things we want? Not doing it the way we would? And at the heart of it, do we lack patience with kids because we can’t control them, and they don’t always control themselves?

Listen, I’m not gonna sugar-coat it: Working with kids can be really hard. Even people who are very gifted with kids will walk away from some of our programs saying, “Whew! That was a hard day.”

But … doesn’t God call us to do things that are hard?

And is it that God wants us to muster up patience and smile through our gritted teeth (been there!), or does he want us to grow to love kids deeply, with His agape love, and as we do – we discover that love is patient? Because God is love. And God is patient.

The people we know who are great with our kids probably wouldn’t say they have the most God-given patience. They just really love our kids.

IMG_0181 IMG_3253

When you sign up to work with kids, they will push your buttons. You will feel frustrated sometimes. But I promise you that if you get to know the beloved souls inside the messes, you will love them through the mess, and you will find a patience that only comes with love.

And you may even start to realize how much like that beloved little soul inside a mess we all are – and so very loved by our patient God.

“Love is patient, love is kind.” 1 Corinthians 13:4

“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” Romans 2:4

Faith Bosland
Executive Director

Mentoring in first person: Steve and Travis’ story

In 2010, Steve Eisentrager (the CEO of Ohio Valley Surgical Hospital, an active member of Lake Avenue Christian Church, and one of the most humble guys we know) approached SCYM about getting involved with kids and families somehow. Because of Steve’s crazy schedule as a hospital CEO, however, he couldn’t commit to a program time every week. So we posed the idea of becoming a one-on-one mentor, a more flexible opportunity that allowed Steve to get to know one student and his family.

Steve and Travis going on an adventure, with "game faces"

Steve and Travis going on an adventure, with intentionally awkward “game faces.”

In January of 2011, Steve was matched with Travis, then a 5th grader at Perrin Woods Elementary. Five years later, Steve and Travis (now a sophomore at Springfield High) still meet regularly. We asked Steve a few questions about his mentoring experience:

Q: What have you enjoyed about being a mentor?

Steve: Being able to live life with a mentee and hang out as a friend who really wants to know all about them. Listening to stories, interests, goofiness; working through struggles like school work; talking about relationships with teachers and friends; getting to know and be a part of their family; cheering at sports events, etc. Life can be very hard for kids, and they often really need a friend that sticks with them and gives little nudges and challenges to someday become a real man or woman for God…and not just follow the path everyone else takes.

Q: What’s one challenge about being a mentor?

Steve: It’s a challenge to balance being there as a friend or person just to have fun with, versus challenging your mentee like a parent might when you see things they could work on. The first seems more important than the second, at least as a prerequisite, but both are a part of mentoring if the student knows they are understood.

Q: What’s something you appreciate about your mentee?

Steve: Travis is very good at carrying on a healthy two-way conversation about life, even with adults. He’s pretty open to talking about things I ask him about. That’s not a skill I had at his age, and I believe a very important life skill for building lasting relationships with other people of the same age or older.

Q: What advice would you give someone thinking about being a mentor?

Steve: Make it fun for you and the mentee, and don’t feel like you have to “perform” or that you don’t have what it takes to make a difference. Just embrace jumping in to listen, laugh, and take an interest in them personally. Being honest with them is OK. The rest comes naturally. Soon they will just feel like family, but you do drop them back off at their house :-).

We thank God for Steve, Travis, and their families! If you’re like Steve and think mentoring might be for you, click here to find out more. We’d love to help you invest in a Springfield kid’s life!