Winshape Camp comes to Florence
By Philip Maenza
Editor of The News Journal
Winshape Foundation was founded in 1985 by Truett Cathy who was the founder of Chick-fil-A. The organization is a nonprofit foundation that originated in Mount Berry, Georgia at Berry College. The camp began as an all-boys camp and then in three years time opened itself up to girls as well. Truett wanted to create a personal camping experience for children that was based on his own fond memories of camping growing up.
Winshape Camp is now a week-long day camp that travels to various areas sharing camp experiences with children who have completed grades 1-9. The director of these camp visits is Jacob Seifert. He has been working with Winshape Camps for five years. There are 11 teams that go to roughly 10 different communities. They have a staff of 27 people that all work together in order to provide camp activities for the children.
Winshape camp also relies on volunteers from the local areas that they visit. These volunteers can be individuals as young as having completed grade 10 or even volunteers that are older than 70. The activities provided to the campers vary by location but generally include outdoor sports such as soccer, flag football, basketball, and archery. They also include a lot of indoor activities such as cooking, crafting, painting, dancing, and musical theatre.
The economic demographics of the campers that come to Winshape Camp varies greatly. This is in part due to the fact that the camp offers scholarship opportunities to children from lower-income families so they can still enjoy a the experience.
On June 18th through June 22nd Winshape Camps came to Florence which was the third stop for Winshape Camp this summer. For the Florence area, this was the first year that this camp was hosted here. Winshape Camp was hosted by First Presbyterian Church which is located at 700 South Park Avenue in Florence.
First Presbyterian Church was able to bring Winshape Camp to the area with the help of other churches such as Calvary Baptist, New Life Church, Firstt Baptist Church, and Risen Church to name a few.
The idea was presented to First Presbyterian Church by Sarah Black. Black is the operator for the Chick-fil-A inside Magnolia Mall. She is the person who originally had the idea to bring Winshape Camp to Florence. Black brought the idea to the attention of First Presbyterian Church. The church was very excited for this opportunity and after a vote, they decided to apply to Winshape to have the camp come to Florence.
First Presbyterian Church was able to host the camp because the facility was able to meet the requirements of Winshape Camp. Winshape needs roughly 22 rooms for classroom space, a kitchen, a large meeting space, and enough yard for outdoor activities. After a visit from Winshape, First Presbyterian was approved to host the camp.
Brock Page is the Director of Youth Ministry at First Presbyterian Church. Page played a big roll in the success of Winshape Camp in Florence. He made sure that the church was able to work with the community in order to recruit campers, find volunteers, and secure scholarship donations for campers. He was able to accomplish all of this and much more. Page credits the organization, Helping Florence Flourish for providing donations for scholarships of campers. Helping Florence Flourish allowed for campers from lower-income families to attend camp.
Page was impressed by the number of campers that were able to attend Winshape. They met their needed quota of campers for the program and then some. Page says that the camp has allowed for community outreach of not only children but parents.
The success of the camp has led to First Presbyterian Church wants to do the camp again next year as well. Page says that next year they will begin recruitment of campers earlier along with volunteers and donations.
First Presbyterian Church was also very unique as they also provided all of the campers with lunches each day they were at camp. The church wanted to do this to assure that each camper had food for lunch despite their economic situation.
Seifert, camp director, said he was excited to see the community of Florence coming together through Winshape camp.
Page said that the camp has been fantastic and is excited for all the wonderful ministry opportunities having the camp in Florence has created. He looks forward to hosting Winshape Camp again next year at First Presbyterian church with the help of Helping Flourishing Florence and the Florence community.