For one week each year, people in Wheeling gather together to do something great. The mission is simple: serve the kids in this valley with no price tag attached. Volunteers show up from every corner of this town. Nobody has their hand out looking to be compensated for their time or ideas. There are no corporate sponsors and nobody looking for special recognition. It doesn’t matter where you went to high school or college, it doesn’t matter which church you attend, it doesn’t matter what social circle you run in, or what you do for a living. All that matters is that you show up to love our kids and let them know and that they are special and were made for a purpose. That no matter what their home life is like and whether they have even one parent in their life, they are loved and have a reason to get up every morning and chase their dreams. That they have a God who loves them and created them to do big things, not only in this town, but in this world.
Do you know what it’s like to look into a child’s eyes and see brokenness and hopelessness? And then to see that same child transform over four days into a smiling, happy kid. Running with reckless abandon, jumping and laughing and singing. To see walls built around little hearts come tumbling down and ears open up to listen? No tablets, phones, iPod’s, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to distract them; the white noise is removed. Thankfully, I do know what this feels like, because I have the great privilege of working alongside a legion of volunteers (men, women & kids) the second week of June each year at the C3 Soccer Camp (free camp for ages 4-10).
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In its 12th year, the camp (sponsored by Covenant Community Church) provides a safe environment for kids to be kids. They play soccer for an hour and learn from some of the best coaches that our area has to offer. After soccer, they come together as a group (450 kids strong), to sing, laugh, and listen. Each night, they hear a different story about Jesus and some amazing things He did a long time ago and how He is still doing incredible things today. The kids get to process that He knows them, loves them, and wants to run alongside them.