In every community, there are children with great promise that isn’t being realized due to limited resources or adult support. Drew and Kay Dodd, members at Zion Lutheran Church (Hickory, NC), after raising two boys of their own, decided they would provide a consistent faith community for middle school and high school boys they now call the Zion Eagles.
The Zion Eagles program provides after school programming and support for children with potential but limited resources. They work with local school counselors to identify participants.
“We huddle, pray, have a snack and then play to get some energy out,” said Drew. “The afternoon also includes homework and one-on-one study help, dinner, vespers and a 5-10 minute lesson on something relevant to their lives-like dealing with bullies.”
“Our counselors were also camp counselors,” said Drew. “They lead the physical activities and vespers.”
The counselors, having served on staff at Lutheridge or Lutherock, bring their relationship building skills and energy to the Zion Eagles program. The boys connect well with them.
While this camp presence strengthens the Zion Eagles afterschool program, Drew and Kay also knew it would be important for the boys to attend camp.
“We have a small budget,” said Drew. The Zion Eagles attend camp each summer through generous contributions to NovusWay for camper scholarships.
“Before we leave for camp, we invite the children and their families to worship for a blessing,” said Drew. Most of the Zion Eagles do not have a church home, so being in the program is their primary connection to a faith community. Drew and others drive the boys to camp after worship on Sunday and pick them up the next Saturday.
The boys aren’t big on sharing their feelings about camp, but Drew can see the excitement and impact when he picks them up on Saturday. “I overhear them talking about camp and I hear them doing the “Yay God” prayers,” he shared. “When I pick them up on Saturday, they run to me excited. They always hug their counselors and seeing that connection is really cool.” On the way home, the boys always break into camp songs together.
“At camp, I know they get to leave behind the difficult parts of their lives and just be kids,” said Drew.
Over the last couple of years, NovusWay has provided scholarships for 40 Zion Eagle campers. Many of these campers benefit from our generous partnership with USA Raft who donates wonderful whitewater rafting experiences for children who receive NovusWay scholarships.
Click HERE to read another impact story.