Lara Holt is the former Global Outreach Coordinator at Stone Hill Church in Princeton, NJ, and she came for a visit to see Summer OFF in action last summer. Here she shares her reflections. Thank you Lara!
New in my role as Global Outreach Coordinator, I heard such wonderful things about the Summer OFF program from our Youth Pastor that I wanted to take a trip up to Rhode Island to check it out for myself. I was so glad I did!
I knew the program was reaching kids from diverse backgrounds, but I hadn’t expected as much diversity as there was. The morning was well planned. There were many activities designed to engage the kids who came, and they had a lot of fun. The large-group time included worship and storytelling, all which clearly shared the gospel message. The moms hanging around in the background got to hear the message as well.
It was a fun-filled day with purpose. The park was in a neighborhood of families they were trying to reach, so it was easy for kids to run over and join the activities. From their perspective, a group of friendly people (mostly teens) brought fun and food and took over part of the local park. The neighborhood kids responded with joy.
The youth from my church were able to participate as well. They led the various activities, sang and played in the worship band, and even shared the gospel. They developed one-on-one relationships with the kids throughout the week. On the day of my visit, I helped at one or two of the activity tables. It was a joy to interact with the kids and get to know them a little bit.
Hearing about this event is one thing – seeing it firsthand is another. I highly recommend it!