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Day camp teaching youth to take care of their world

People driving by Sixth and Center streets in Ironton this week might see children walking around outside pretending to be birds or see them tackling a college student for his Frisbee.

Don’t be alarmed.

That’s just normal at the Amazing Grace Day Camp.

St. Paul Lutheran Church has hosted the camp for seven years for youth who have completed kindergarten through sixth grade. The church supplies volunteers, the community supplies the children and Lutheran Outdoor Ministries of Ohio supplies the counselors.

Pastor David Ritchie said it is a Vacation Bible School, but not a typical one. The camp started Monday and continues through Friday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. While at the camp, children make crafts, play games, eat lunch, hear Bible stories and make friends, and it’s all free.

Parents just need to drop off children at 9 a.m. and take a few minutes to complete the registration papers.

“It’s an outreach to the community,” Ritchie said. “The majority of the kids are from the community.”

While there are children at the camp who go to the church regularly, as well as children who usually attend other churches, Ritchie said many of the children at the camp don’t go to church anywhere.

“There are kids who come and this is the only time they hear the name of Jesus, learn Bible stories and can have fun while doing it,” he said.

The counselors are all college students who work through the LOMO organization and are trained specifically to be camp counselors for this program.

Sarah Milbrodt, senior at Ohio State University, is the team coordinator for the group of counselors.

“This is my second year,” Milbrodt said. “I like traveling, seeing different places and working with kids all over the state.”

The theme for the week is “Keeping the Earth” and Milbrodt said she hopes the children can learn about the world God made and how everything in the world is connected and how people need to take care of everything.

“I hope that they have a fun time and can learn about God’s grace and love,” she said.

Adele Croucher, counselor from New Zealand, told the Bible story on Monday to the third through sixth grade class.

“God cares about even the bugs that get splattered on our windshield and even the possums hit on the side of the road,” Croucher told the students. “He cares even more for you and me.”

For Monday’s craft, the children made a birdfeeder out of milk jugs. Alyssa Hipps, 6, of Flatwoods, Ky., said doing crafts is one of her favorite parts.

“I like making stuff and eating stuff,” Alyssa said. “I like spending time with my friends and Aunt Bette Lou.”

“Aunt Bette Lou,” also known as Bette Backus, has volunteered at the camp for four years and said she likes that the camp emphasizes that God’s grace is free.

“I remember growing up thinking God’s going to strike me down at any time,” Backus said. “It’s important they know God loves them no matter what.”

For more information on the camp, you can call the St. Paul Lutheran Church at (740) 532-4727.