Editor’s Note: Jane Moser is an Assistant Instructor at Camp Hutchison who teaches First Grade reading. The “Foxes, Porcupines, and Squirrels” are rising first graders.

People often ask me how I spend my summer vacation. I always respond with either VBS or Camp Hutchison at our local partner school in Herndon, where I also spend the school year serving in the classroom or in the library. Summer camp is really a wonderful opportunity to get to know the children on a more personal level, to see the progress that they have made, and to simply have fun together. All week we have beenstudying Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Mrs. Berlin told the class that they would be learning to read the entire book all by themselves. One young man responded, “I can’t read. I’m too young to read.” Today the entire group read the book orally together. He was so surprised and pleased! He really read the wholebook and could recognize all the words. I wish that you could see the smiles, hear the laughter, and share in the questions (and the answers) that come up everyday. I tell some people that I only volunteer so that I can read the daily T-shirt messages from Mr. John in Third Grade Reading, but I really come to have fun with the kids. Side benefits for me are the enthusiasm of all the volunteers who energize me each day;teachers and other volunteers who share creative ideas on presenting the material; and Hutchison staff and faculty who model teaching and positive behavior modification techniques I can use in the school year with our next class of kindergartners. After many years of Serving at Floris UMC in a variety of roles, I have seen our youth experiment with the “helping” and “teaching” professions during our summer volunteer opportunities and watched them choose education majors or careers paths which grew out of their camp or VBS participation. I have made new friendships across generations, which continue through snail mail and email after the young people become college students, marry or relocate. I have met some very interesting and dedicated volunteers who are knowledgeable, experienced and talented. The volunteers are diverse in their backgrounds. So far I’ve met a retired school principal, a rocket scientist, a fashion design student, a sports writer, a college professor, a nanny, and a defense contractor.

Henry Adams once observed, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” A former Chipmunk from last year’s camp stopped by yesterday to give me a hug and to tell me that he was in a summer school program called Bridge to the Future. One of my current students gave me a message from his brother now in high school who remembers reading together on Read Across America day. Whether you participate in VBS or Camp Hutchison or Vecinos Unidos or Sunday School, you are on a journey shepherding God’s littlest lambs. You will have an awesome responsibility which God takes very seriously. May we all use our talents with God’s help to touch the hearts and minds of all our campers. Someone once said that “What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.” James 1:17 KJV: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights. There’s still time to get involved with Camp Hutchison and use your gifts to brighten the minds and the lives of these amazing kids.

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