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Salkehatchie Summer Service
Huntersville Camp 2010
Notes from the Camp Director

Jerry Kita was born in Welland, Ontario, Canada and has lived in Huntersville, NC since July 1997 with his wife Mona and their three children, Ben, Nathan and Natalia. The Kita family are members of Huntersville United Methodist Church. In 2000 Jerry and Mona led a group of eight youth to a Salkehatchie Summer Service Camp in Camden, South Carolina. This year Jerry and Mona are running their 8th camp in Huntersville.

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June 29, 2010
July 11, 2010
July 17, 2010
July 18, 2010
July 19, 2010
July 20, 2010
July 21, 2010
July 22, 2010
July 23, 2010
July 24, 2010


May 31, 2010 - Huntersville, North Carolina

It's time to start getting ready for another Salkehatchie camp. We'll be hosting our 8th camp. Check here for regular updates from the Camp Director.

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June 29, 2010 - 35,000 Above Sea Level

Just 18 days before camp starts. I feel like I'm scrambling a bit to get ready. The good news is that we've got the big stuff taken care of. We've got our homes selected. We know (I think) where our meals are coming from and we've got most of the evening programming worked out.

However, I do feel like I'm about a week to 10 days behind where I'd like to be. Usually by now I've worked out the adult teams. Outside of picking the site leaders I haven't done that yet. The adult meeting is on July 10th so I better get that done in the next few days. This year I've also been very slow getting the website up and ready for the camp. Although the website isn't essential to running the camp I like to keep it current. So far I haven't done that.

There are going to be changes this year. The biggest change is that Billy Rintz's tenure as Senior Pastor at Huntersville UMC is over. I'll miss him both as my Salkehatchie partner and my friend. Anyone who's attended this camp knows what an impact he's made over the years. We'll miss him.

Huntersville UMC's new pastor is Mike Goode and we'll be hearing him preach for the first time this coming Sunday (July 4th). I had the opportunity to meet Mike and his wife Ellen last week and they're both great.

For the coming camp our spiritual leader will Tresca McSwain. Tresca has attended our camp every year since 2004 as the youth director for Lafayette UMC in Shelby, NC. She left that position earlier this year to take the same position at Dilworth UMC in Charlotte. She knows this camp as well as anyone and will do a great job.

For the first time ever our camp will be smaller than it was the previous year. We'll have about 58 folks in camp this year versus the 72 we had last year. Last year we were packed in pretty tight. We'll have a little bit more room this time around. It will also mean we have less money to use so we'll have to manage our budgets a little more closely.

I know it's going to be a good camp. It always is. Mona and I will just need to get a lot of work done in the next few weeks so that we'll be ready.

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July 11, 2010

It's fair to say that I'm a little calmer today. For whatever reason I've been feeling a little anxious about the upcoming camp. I'm not really sure why because although we've been scrambling the last few weeks to get everything ready for camp it's really no different from the past few years.

We had our adult meeting yesterday. As always it's a reassuring experience. We have a lot of skills and experience at our camp. It's going to be great. And suddenly I'm less anxious.

In terms of attendees we're going to have the smallest camp (57 attendees) we've had since 2006. And we'll have the fewest number of youths since our first camp in 2003. Not entirely sure why that's the case but I actually like the thought of having a smaller camp. We'll have some more room in the church. Last year we had 72 folks registered. It was pretty tight at the church. The downside is that fewer campers means less funds for the camp. Each camper pays a $200 registration fee. The entire fee goes to the camp. Fifteen few campers means we'll have $3000 less to spend on the homeowners. In addition, we won't have the same plumbing help we've had in years past. Last year Tri-Meck Mechanical provided all the plumbing help we could have asked for. My plumbing expense was essentially nothing. It will be different this year.

The net result is that we'll have to manage our budgets more carefully. That might be our biggest challenge through the week.

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July 17, 2010

I guess there is a first time for everything. Like every other year we had our opening tour of homes on the first day camp. It's an opportunity for everyone to see the homes that we are working and it especially gives the youth an opportunity to let the Camp staff know which homes they'd prefer to work on. For the first time ever we had to contend with rain during the tour. And by rain I mean a torrential downpour. We got through the first three homes before the skies opened up. A little too much lightning for my liking.

We did manage to get through it by having the teams visit the last two homes in shifts but it was far from ideal.

Other than that the day was mostly routine. Campers started arriving by 10:00am (three hours early) and by about 2:30pm everyone was here. We were able to start our program early which is a nice way to keep the Camp Director happy.

After the tour everyone got dried off and we had a great dinner courtesy of the DeKemper family (Thanks John, Rehnea and kids!). Tresca McSwain and Perry Brittain led our evening program. Some fun games and ice breakers. It seemed that everyone had a good time.

We're dealing with at least one case of homesickness but we're keeping on top of that.

After the evening program the adults got together to form the teams. Always a fun time! It actually didn't take too long since Mona and Tresca did a great job of taking the first pass through the teams.

As the evening ended Carl Duncan, John Ballentine, Brian Bailey and I discussed some of the logistics around setting up a camp. John is interested in starting a camp in Arkansas. How cool is that!

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July 18, 2010

Sunday's are usually an easy day for the Camp Director. The teams have been selected and they then start travelling in groups. The Site Leaders are responsible for the actions of the team.

After breakfast the teams head out to meet with their homeowners. It's an opportunity for the homeowner to meet her team for the very first time. The site leader starts the meeting by leading a devotion. Afterwards time is spent determing what is going to happen over the course of the week.

After returning back to the church the teams join the 11:00am worship. As has always been the case we sit together wearing our Salkehatchie T-shirts (blue this year!). Pastor Goode did a very nice job weaving Salkehatchie into the order of worship.

After worship we had lunch. After lunch Allison Cook, the new Youth Director from Layayetts St UMC lead the camp in some team building games. They were all very creative. The funniest (at least to me) was having one member from each team tape up their heads with tape, sticky side facing out. The objective was then to pick up the most candies off the floor without using any hands. Very funny.

Afterwards we took everyone bowling. Quite a variety of styles and talents were on display.

Dinner was once again at the Ranson house. Rehnea & Billy Raines always do a great job hosting us. We had hoped to have our evening commissioning service on the patio at the Raines house but threatening weather forced to move back to the church.

Tresca lead the session and spoke to us about the importance of role models in our lives and in particular telling us that Jesus Christ is the best role model. The commissioning service followed. This year we provided handmade bracelets for each of the campers. Tresca put on a great service while Perry Brittain and Karen Anzola provided the music.

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July 19, 2010

The first workday ... it's always exciting

It seemed that everyone make it to breakfast about 10 minutes early. Since breakfast was scheduled to start at 6:15am that was saying something. As always the Methodist Men put on a fantastic breakfast.

Everybody was heading out the door about 6:40am. They seemed really keen. At that time I was hoping that the weeks of planning would all come together. We thought everything was in place. The first couple of hours in the morning would tell the story.

While in the parking lot I got my first request of the day. Beth Carlton had packed her husband Neal's work shoes. They didn't fit her (too tight?). I went home a to pick up a pair of Mona's shoes. They seemed to work.

I had a few calls to make early in the morning to ensure the delivery of lumber, dumpsters and porto-potties. Everything seemed to run smoothly.

About 7:45am I started making a tour of the houses starting with Banks home since I had to deliver Beth's shoes. The team was already at work ripping off the roof. They had a lot of work ahead of them. On the inside teams we're hard at work ripping out the bathroom and assessing what needed to be done in the kitchen. There was no shortage of activity.

Down the street at the Harvin home, they too were on the roof. They had discovered that they needed to remove four layers of shingles. The team new there were probably more than one layer of shingles but they didn't anticipate four. However, Cody had the team working hard.

At the Berry home the team was hard at work taking about the kitchen and the bathroom. In addition, the team started to finish the drywall in the back room. Along with the Banks home this was going to be a big project. However, that wasn't unexpected.

At the Stinson home the team was less certain about week ahead. We knew that there was some weird stuff going on in the walls and below the floor but we couldn't really tell. The team would spend much of the day diagnosing the problems. One job however, was to gut the bathroom. We already knew that a lot of work needed to be done there.

At the McCauley home things seemed to be pretty straightforward. The team was making good progress clearing the shingles on the roof (only one layer!) and they were beginning to lay out the footings for the deck. Vance was working on removing the floor around the toilet in the bathroom.

I had to drop by Lowe's with an updated buyer's list. In addition Troy Daniels came around offering to be runner for the teams. I gave him some brief instructions and sent him on his way. Thanks Troy!

When I got back to the church I started working on getting the shower trailer hooked up. The shower trailer is owned by the Merci Relief Center and is available to us when it's not otherwise in use. It doubles our shower capacity at the church. After leveling the trailer I turned on the propane and lit the pilot light on the water heater. Everyone would be able to have a hot shower in the evening.

Lunch was at the church and we had some great (like really great) barbecue. Ann Gibert did a great job setting this up.

In the afternoon work proceeded rather straight-forwardly. The only surprises ocurred at the Banks home who realized they would need kitchen cabinets and the Stinson home. At the Stinson home Site Leader Robert Dobbins, along with Mona, were investigating the structure of the walls and underneath the house. What they found wasn't good. Lots of rot and termite damage. Robert and Mona along with a few youth got under the house (the crawlspace is about 18" high) and realized that portions of the house might need to be jacked up. By the end of the day on Monday they still hadn't figured out what the priorities would be.

In the evening the Seekers class provided us with fried chicken. It was great.

During the evening program Karen and Darren provided the music leadership. Afterwards Tresca broke everyone into their teams and the teams went away to discuss some questions regarding their first few days at Salkehatchie. It seemed to be well-received judging by the skits they had to do afterwards.

Later in the evening our camp alumni and friends, Baker and Jennifer Ratliff, came by with their children. They will help us out on Tuesday.

As first days go, it was a good one. Looking forward to the rest of the week!

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July 20, 2010

Second day of work. The teams seemed a little tired to start the day. On Monday everyone was at breakfast by 6:10am. Today at 6:10am the Fellowship Hall was half empty. Everyone eventually came to breakfast but there seemed to be a discernable lack of energy in the morning. Part of it was that some of the campers didn't get to sleep until late. That will change as the week goes forward.

As for the Camp Director, it was a rather uneventful day. The teams ran on their own and all I did was take pictures which is usually the plan.

The teams continued to make good progress. The Harvin and McCauley teams seeme to be on or ahead of schedule while Berry and Stinson were still in the process of diagnosing the challenges at their respective houses. The Banks home, which at the start of camp seemed to be our biggest challenge, was making great progress on the roof. With Michael Stewart in charge on the roof it wasn't too surprising.

The weather continues to be hot. A few adults and youth had to cut their time short on the roof for fear of becoming overheated. We didn't have any serious incidents but that was due to the diligence of the campers themselves. We'll just have to continue keeping on eye on each other since it's not getting any cooler this week.

We also had no precipitation today. I was concerned coming into the week since the weather forecast was calling for rain and we would be working on three roofs early in the week. However, any rainstorms have passed us by.

In the evenings, on Tuesday we've typically had a lighter evening. This year we decided to have a campout on the church property and make some smores. It seemed like a decent idea at the time we put it together. However it was still blistering hot outside and there were a lot of insects. It wasn't a terrible time but not quite what we planned. We'll try something different next year.

Looking forward to Wednesday.

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July 21, 2010

It's hump day. It's a day that I always worry about. During our first camp in 2003 Wednesday was the day that all the wheels came off. Everything seemed to go wrong that day. So I always approach Wednesday's with a certain wariness.

I think I've done a better job this year keeping somewhat rested during the camps. In the first few years of the camp I would spend my nights keeping the website updated, often being up past 1-2am in the morning and then being up before breakfast at 5:30am. I seemed to be able to keep up with only a few hours of sleep per night. I just can't seem to do that anymore. This year I've been getting to bed just before midnight and updating the website first thing in the morning. It seems to work for me.

What has also helped is that during the day at this camp I don't get many phone calls. That tells me that the camp is running rather smoothly and and the site leaders are getting what they need. Despite my earlier concerns about this year's camp planning we seem to be doing OK.

Today I didn't have to do too much outside of visiting all the sites. I spent most of the day in the church. When I did get out I was able to use Mona's van since she really didn't need it. In my car the A/C hasn't been working so driving Mona's car was a relief.

As of Wednesday here's how I was handicapping the houses. Harvin and McCauley should finish up easily on time. Banks seemed to be getting a lot of work done and even if they didn't finish on Friday they will have accomplished a lot. Berry and Stinson were still involved in a lot of engineering and might be hard pressed to get done.

The temperature was still brutally hot today. But again there was no rain.

In the evening Karen and Darren provided the music once again and did a terrific job. I was somewhat surprised at the energy everyone still had.

Tresca again broke everyone up into their teams and they went away to discuss foundations as it related to their spiritual life. They were then asked to perform a skit based on their discussion.

All the skits were good but a few of them were hilarious .... most notably the Banks team and the Harvin team. We've got some funny creative people in our camp.

We're more than half way home. Thursday will be along work day.

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July 22, 2010

Thursday ... the longest workday of the week. We extend the work day on Thursdays and have dinner at 7:30pm rather than 6:30pm. We also have no evening program which gives the teams the latitude to relax at the church, go out as a team or in some circumstances to extend the work day even further. One way or the other this flexibility helps reduce a bit of the stress.

For me this was a pretty quiet day. I probably spent less time at the sites than I did any other day this week.

I had to fill up the propane for the shower trailer so the campers would have the option of a hot shower (why?) when they got back to camp. I also deposited some money at the bank. We'd received some donations this week. Lastly, I had to be sure that Natalia got to her soccer practice.

I did get a call from a Huntersville Salkehatchie alumni Michele Sager about 10:00am. She was heading into Huntersville to spend the Thursday and Friday workday with us. Michele had attended the two previous Huntersville Salkehatchie camps. When she arrived I took her out to work on the Banks site. She was reunited with her good friends Beth Carlton and Hope Oliphant.

Lunch was at HUMC again and it was a collection of the food that we'd eaten over the past few days. That may not sound appetizing but it was really, really good.

In the afternoon I spent some time at the Stinson home to see how they were doing. My personal errands also took me that way so I was able to see how Robert's team was doing. The dormer extension was mostly framed but some major work was ahead of them. On the inside the plumber was doing a great job. However, the house had galvanized pipe that was crumbling at the slightest touch. Ultimately, the team decided it was easier to replace the plumbing in the entire house rather than patch it. Thank goodness for professional plumbers.

In the evening, only the Berry team went back to their site. A few teams went our for ice cream and milk shakes while the Stinson team stayed in.

Tomorrow's the grand finale!

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July 23, 2010

One of the things I can say about this year is that I haven't for a single second felt any stress. That's probably attributable to a couple of things. First of all, we've been doing this for a few years. I know I was far more stressed during the first few years of the camp. Second, we attract a lot of good people to camp. Having almost 60 people working toward the same goal certainly makes you pretty confident that you can handle anything. Third, I've probably had more sleep during this camp. That has certainly helped.

On Fridays I usually don't get out to the sites as much as I do during the rest of the week. I've always thought that the site leaders don't need the Camp Director hovering over them waiting for them to finish. Site leaders have a lot of pressure on them and don't need me hanging around. Besides they know better than I could ever tell them what they need to do.

On Friday we had lunch at New Friendship Presbyterian. Great chicken wings and mac & cheese. Our favorite lunch spot every year.

About 3:00pm in the afternoon Erin Mode and Kelsey Blackburn showed up at the church. Because of school commitments Erin was missing the Huntersville camp for the first time in seven years. Kelsey hadn't attended the camp for about 2 years. It was good to see them both.

Shortly after 3:15pm the Harvin team showed up at the church. They were finished first as I expected they would be. Following them were the Banks and Berry teams. Next came the McCauley team. At about 5:00pm the Stinson team were no where in sight. I checked with Rob Dobbins and it looked like they weren't going to arrive for another hour. They finally rolled in about 6:00pm. They got their showers and we were on the road to begin the tour at about 6:30pm.

The Friday tour, as always is a great event. Everyone was tired but still pumped up to visit the homes. Some great testimonials from the homeowners. Hopefully, we'll get the videos on the website at some point.

After the tour we intended to head to Union Bethel AME Zion Church for dinner. They had made us dinner for the past two years. I guess there was a miscommunication because the church was empty. That was the first time that had happended in the eight years we've been running the camp. First time for everything I guess. We went back to the church and decided to let each of the teams do their own thing for dinner. It actually worked out pretty well. Two teams ended up at Cici's while the other three ended up at Cookout. The feedback I received later suggested that the teams liked getting out together in a less formal setting. We'll have to give this some thought for next year.

The communion service and symbol ceremony has been a tradition of Salkehatchie camps. It's an opportunity for everyone to reflect on their experience during the week. It's always been one of the highlights of the camp. The evening program ran pretty late. We weren't done until after midnight.

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July 24, 2010

I didn't get any sleep during the night. As I have the past I create a Powerpoint presentation that I show to campers on Saturday morning. Every year I say I'm going to start the presentation early in the week and do a bit of it everyday. And every year I start after midnight on Friday. This years presentation had just under 600 charts and ran for about 30 minutes. A great way to review the week.

For the past three years we have recognized the camper who best exemplifies the spirit of Salkehatchie. We do this in memory of Nicole Sager. Nicole, who attended our camp in 2006 and 2007 died in a single car accident in April 2008, two days after her 17th birthday. Her mother Michele has been a part of the past three camps.

This year the camp recognized Cody Shores. A great choice. Cody has attended every Huntersville Salkehatchie camp starting when he was 14 years old. He has been a site leader the past two years. Cody is very soft spoken but commands the respect of those around him. It was great to see him recognized.

Camp was adjourned at about 10:00am. It had been a great week. The weather was brutally hot but a lot of good things got done. Over the course of the week we did four roofs, three kitchen renovations, four bathroom renovations as well as repairing plumbing, wiring and all the other things the campers do to improve the homes.

It was a great camp! Thanks be to God.

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