Pam Taylor has been the organizer of MAD Camp since 2015, and although MAD Camp looked different in 2020 and 2021 - the deep love for the kids stays the same.
For those that haven’t heard of MAD Camp for Jesus, let me give you a little background. MAD stands for Music - Arts - Drama & Dance. It’s a camp we provide for the kids from the Wesley-Rankin Community Center (WRCC) in West Dallas.
The community around the WRCC is very low income, primarily Hispanic, and most homes are small and were owned by a landlord. Parents work hard; often 2-3 jobs; and households are sometimes multigenerational. WRCC would provide food, clothes, etc. but at one point they asked the community families – “How can we help you?” and the response was, “Help us educate our children. There are plenty of places to get help for food and clothing, but we can’t help our children in school." So WRCC started after school programs, and many other educational programs.
In 2011, the WRCC started a summer enrichment camp for the community. It started as a pilot 3 week program on their campus, with one week dedicated to Music, Art, and Drama. The other weeks focused on Science, Math, and Reading. That first year, an issue arose that the group providing Music, Art and Drama couldn’t come, and they called the Conference for help. Rev. Karen Chraska responded to that plea and offered up Trietsch to provide that week – HOWEVER – we wouldn’t be able to do it in West Dallas, but if they could come to Flower Mound, we would pull it off, provide lunch, and fun activities. That first year we hosted 99 1st-5th graders!
Jump ahead to 2019. We hosted 160 elementary and middle school children for 4 days and 21 high school students for 2 days. We provided Music, Art, Drama, Dance and outside water play for elementary. Ashley Henson organized over 25 unique activities for middle schoolers to choose from. Our high schoolers, thanks to Linda Norman, helped serve Denton County Friends of the Family Thrift Store, Denton State School, and Humane Tomorrow. For 4 days, we provided an average of 255 homemade lunches + 111 snacks. Each day, we were blessed with over 100 volunteers to help serve this community. The MAD CAMP Leadership team and volunteers are outstanding and I wish I could list everyone here.
I got involved in 2014. I retired at the end of 2013 and was looking for things to do, and signed up to be a “shepherd” for MAD for Jesus 2014 under the direction of Kim Beck and her team of helpers. It was so much fun. I signed up to help each day, and at the end of the week, Kim said “Hey, what are you doing next year, why don’t you take this over? We have a great team, and the program is pretty much set, and so it’s pretty easy." So I said, SURE. The kids were amazing, and to see how their eyes lit up being out of the city, and seeing the love that we were showing them, it hit me in the depth of my soul – I HAD TO BE PART OF IT.
Well, over time, we’ve worked with WRCC leadership to adapt to their growing program. That original 3 week camp turned into an 8 week camp called B3X, with a week in the ‘burbs’ to focus on music, art, drama, and fun …. and homemade food! We expanded to provide all day electives for the middle schoolers, and service opportunities for the high schoolers. WRCC brings 4 busloads of elementary and middle schoolers for 4 days, and a couple van-loads of high schoolers.
But in 2020 we couldn’t have camp due to COVID. Actually WRCC pivoted to a virtual summer program. We asked how we could help, and they said if we could provide hygiene bags, that would be really helpful because as families were struggling to provide food, hygiene items were often left off the list. So with the help of our church family and friends, Ashley Henson, David Taylor and I provided over 160 Hygiene bags to families as they drove by WRCC to pick up food for the weekend.
In 2021, being unsure about how COVID would impact, they opted to do a similar virtual summer program, but on Fridays have a Family Fun Day where families are encouraged to come onto their campus, do some activities, get some food, and make contact. Trietsch has signed up to provide the activities on Friday July 23, 2021 on their campus in West Dallas. They expect no more than 75 people (kids and chaperones) as a come and go activity from 1-3pm. Because of social distancing, we can’t take too many folks, and we can offer about 4-5 activities. But one of them will definitely be homemade food!
MAD Camp has been such a blessing: to our church as a mission service opportunity, to the MAD Camp Leadership (which includes Stage Right Ministry and folks that have come to donate their time and talents from all over the community), kitchen crew, church staff, and hundreds of volunteers (which have included Marcus Marquettes, Color Guard, Drum squad, Flower Mound Rosettes, Fire department, Police Department, Lewisville Farmerettes, cheerleaders, dancers, and so many more). And especially to the kids and staff from WRCC … we are showing the love of Jesus in a radical way to kids that we see once a year. But believe me – they remember us!!! Most of the kids have been here since they started in 1st grade.
It’s been 2 years that WRCC has not come to Flower Mound. I’m praying that we will see nearly 200 faces on this campus next summer 2022 for a week, that we will have every building and free space used on this campus providing activities, and we will have love, overflowing for these children of God that live in a very different environment that we do.
We don’t have a general call out for volunteers this year because of the limited activities, but I wanted everyone to know that we are NOT forgetting our lovely children from WRCC. We are helping them within their limitations this year. And we are PRAYING we will be back in full force next year. I hope that you will consider helping in some aspect next year, as we plan for a great 2-year-delayed 10 Year Anniversary Celebration camp.
Blessings to you all,