FredCamp – fixing-up homes in our community

FredCamp group picture in 2010

FredCamp was pioneered by Jan Saylor, youth director. “FredCamp was a dream of mine for 5 years” and began for the summer of 1999.  A much larger model was the Petersburg work camp which St. George’s had participated

The youth, ages 14 and above, would work on home repairs for low income, handicapped or elderly.  Typical work projects may include drywall installation or patching, replacing flooring, painting, installing gutters, fixing porches, constructing wheelchair ramps. They would be based and sleep on the floor at the Fredericksburg  Christian School.  College students and adults can also help as staff or “adult campers

The goal was to teach “serving and putting others before themselves.”   Other benefits were added in latest year including “teaching teamwork, decision making, and leadership skills.” The most important lesson is “learning to have a servants’ heart.” 

It would be scheduled for a week in the first 2 weeks of July.  In 1999, they worked on 7 homes and in later years the leadership would keep the program limited to at most 10 homes and 50 children from Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania, Caroline and King George.   In that first year, they hosted 42 youth and adults from Louisa, Charlottesville, Warrenton as well as Fredericksburg.   In future years, the youth would be drawn from up to 20 churches, representing 7 denominations from the Fredericksburg area

Each year had a theme. (In 2004, it was “Let Your Light Shine.” It required a substantial support staff

Pam Bullock wrote in 2009 about the support needed. “It takes several hundred individual volunteers and many donations of time, talent and treasure to make Fred Camp happen every year, and there is an important ministry opportunity for everyone

The support included:

1. Go-fers needed to take supplies to the sites – up to 4 hours
2. Those who shop at Lowe’s
3. Those who could provide special construction skills, electricity or plumbing.
4. Serving dinner on one night. A “Dinner Team Angel” would head up and recruit a few helpers (4-7 works well) to plan, prepare, deliver and serve one of six Fred Camp dinners (to feed 100
5. One adult “Lunch Team Angel” to head up a small group of people who will adopt one Fred Camp work site to prepare and deliver to the site s simple lunch for each of the five camp days
6. lending tools for the projects

The Bullocks, Hus and other families put in many years organizing supervising and driving children to worksites.  Fletcher Wells in 2008 commented on the role of adults. “Often times, behind the scenes, our adults came to the help of several different sites with anything that might be needed.  We had a parishioner give up every morning that week to provide breakfast for the campers.  And there is the testament of a father’s love.  Tom Pugh came to spend a week with his two sons—the Pugh family was a very strong presence throughout the week.”

Cost per camper was $275 with participants paying $175 with St. George’s covering approximately $100. St. George’s also provided a mission grant of approximately$800 for many years.  The cost included specially designed FredCamp T-shirt.  (In 2010, it was designed by St. Georgian Simon Hu for the entire program). St. George’s had several parishioners that would give a yearly donation to the program.

Typically, at night there would be both entertainment and reflection.  Wednesday was devoted to recreation, often a swimming activity.

A newsletter article in 2010 described the activities. “ Inspired by an excerpt from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (Eph 6:10-18), our program theme this year was “Be Strong in the Lord.”.. Through the week, in a study of the mighty Roman Army and the construction of the Roman soldier’s suit of armor, campers were invited to consider the Paul’s use of the suit of armor as metaphor for employment of God’s word in our lives.  Using simple materials like duct tape, each camper constructed a personal, symbolic suit of armor during the week; in addition, each was awarded his or her own personal sword souvenir (Nerf) at the end of Saturday morning’s closing.

That year they documented the results of the week. “By Friday afternoon, campers had completed projects which included construction of three accessibility ramps, complete siding replacement, demolition and replacement of rotted floors, installation of new windows/doors/security hardware, complete exterior house painting, replacement of old floor coverings and concrete repairs—to name just a few of the astonishing works performed locally as several dozen brave souls were “foolish enough to believe they could make a difference.”  And make a difference, they did!  Thanks be to God! “

The participation at FredCamp over 15 years from St. George’s can be seen in this table

Year

Youth

Adults

1999

7

 

2000

?

 

2001

?

 

2002

13

2

2003

17

2

2004

8

3

2005

15

2

2006

7

2

2007

7

2

2008

7

2

2009

13

3

2010

13

3

2011

7

3

2012

8

3

2013

8

3

2014

10

3

2015

0

0

2016

0

1

2017

0

0

Jan Saylor left St. George’s in 2006.   The Vestry minutes noted a change in theological direction internally with FredCamp leadership. “Since she has left, the leadership of FredCamp group has shifted to a more narrow theological and spiritual grounding and framework which borders on fundamentalism.  Some teenagers have expressed concerns.”

After 2014, the program lost some of its key leadership at St. George’s that organized the program here.  By 2016, St. George’s on a similar mission activity in North Carolina, “Glory Ridge” which also featured home repair in the Marshall, NC vicinity.  (In 2017, Glory Ridge was schedule during the same week as FredCamp.  FredCamp also had its own internal issue. It was a separate entity and the head of the program moved to a new locality and ran it from there.

In 2017, the program appears to have run its course.

One of the youth Lily Lawson wrote about her experiences with FredCamp in 2004 in the St Georgian newsletter:

FredCamp 2004  “Being God’s Color in the World” 

“In short FredCamp 2004 was another year of success thanks to all the hard work and dedication of the 50 kids from area churches who worked there.  We were off to work every morning at 8 00 a m. and came back and if we were lucky at about 4 00 p m. In those hours, God s work was done. Whether we were dry walling, laying down linoleum, “sweating buckets”, battling wasps, cementing or painting whole houses, everyone always had a smile on their face. This is what FredCamp is truly about-improving our residents’ lives by spreading God’s love.

“FredCamp touched the lives of 10 people who so graciously let kids equipped with power tools into their homes. At the end of the day, we might have been exhausted, but you know what? Everyone still had a smile on their face. You would never believe the joy that our hard labor brought us each and every day that we were there. Of course, this was due in part to the campers and staff and our own wonderful Jan Saylor, who runs the machine that is FredCamp.

“I am happy to say I got to take part in FredCamp again this year, and wish that it was a longer than a week And I know that my fellow St Georgians, Beth, Tyler, Hannah, Meg, Katelyn, Paul and adult campers, Connie and Stephen, all feel the same way Every young person at this church who has been lucky enough to experience FredCamp can attest to the brilliance of what happens there. Our motto this year was Matthew 5:22, “you’re here to be light, bringing out the God colors in the world.” Shine {The Message) That’s exactly what we did we brought out the colors of God’s love and let it shine all over our work

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