May The Force Be With You
This is a story of our Camp Sunshine Mission Team.
This is published in The First Edition, September 2015 issue.
In the late 1970’s Rev. David Weyant moved from Pennsylvania to the New Mexico Conference due to his wife’s health needs. His District Superintendent asked him what the Pennsylvania Conference was doing that was not being done in New Mexico. David told the District Superintendent about a camp for developmentally delayed adults, ages 16+.
The District Superintendent asked him to consider beginning such a camp for the New Mexico Conference. David immediately began to plan for the camp and became the first director. The camp has operated every summer since 1978. A few of the campers have attended every session and they come from the New Mexico Annual Conference (the state of New Mexico and far west Texas from Odessa westward).
All of the campers are mentally and /or physically handicapped but when they are at Camp Sunshine, they are treated as “normal” and the counselors and volunteers who serve at this camp bring their open hearts and willing hands to help make it a wonderful week. Some campers start counting the days until the next camp, on the day they are departing from the week.
Each year, there is a specific scripture that drives the theme for the entire week. This summer the scripture focus was Isaiah 40:26:
“Look up at the sky and consider: Who created these? The one who brings out their attendants one by one, summoning each of them by name. Because of God’s great strength and mighty power, not one is missing.”
And out of this, the theme for the entire week was “May the Force Be With You” to convey God’s presence throughout the universe in a fun, celebratory way.
We sent twelve missioners to Camp Sunshine: Larry and Sue Baird, Jerry Hinks, George Hurtado, Elaine Jackson, Crystal Jackson, Kathy Pena, Kirsten Pena, Ev and Nelia Schrum, Elizabeth Venable, and Terry Williams.
Each of them experienced wonderful “God moments” in their interactions with the campers and they’ve returned to FUMC with a desire to find a way to support this ministry even more. They are challenging our small groups to prayerfully consider building a scholarship for Camp Sunshine because many of the campers are disadvantaged financially and would not be able to attend if not for such acts of generosity.
Whether you attend the camp next year as a volunteer or provide a gift towards a financial scholarship, remember that generosity is a way of sharing God’s grace. May the strength of God’s abundant generosity flow through us into this ministry.