My name is Jeff Brown, and I am going to be a senior at Calvin College. While at school I study sociology, and I have minors in religion, congregational and ministry studies, and urban studies. This summer I interned at Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community, and as part of that internship I worked at the Brashear Association's summer camp. Hot Metal and the Brashear Association have a robust relationship that I was excited to continue to foster.
I have a real passion for the city and the people that live in it, so I was very thankful for the time that I had to hang out with kids. It is one thing to study social patterns and the dynamics of the city, but it is something else entirely to talk and build relationships with the young ones that live within those dynamics every day. The experience gave me hope and filled me with a lot of joy.
My favorite part about my camp experience was sitting with the kids. Whether we were drinking a fresh smoothie, playing Jenga, or drawing a new picture, it was an enriching experience.
Some of the kids were more talkative and open than others, but even the most wary 12-year-old boys opened up a little bit the longer I sat and drew pictures next to them. Even in four weeks some pretty awesome relationships were established, and I trust the Brashear Association will continue to build them. It’s amazing what time and a positive environment can do, even through playing games of Jenga.
Even though my favorite part of my own experience was simply being present and observing the kids, the most astonishing thing that I noticed about the camp in general was the positive environment. The urban neighborhood that the camp was in has some obstacles that the community is working to overcome. The poverty is high, the healthy food options are few, and it is obviously a harder place to be in the city. However, the camp was not a reflection of that at all.
The camp offered an alternative to its surroundings. We learned about other cultures, made healthy snacks, tried all sorts of different types of art, played some fun games, talked about activism, and we kept the conversation positive and life giving. That to me is the most important thing that happened at our camp. We offered hope and exploration into new ideas, hobbies, and interests that may not have been options to them before. Above all else, it was a good place for the kids to be, and I was confident that they were leaving a hopeful place and somehow that would make a difference.
Thanks Jeff for all your hard work and dedication to our students this summer. It is always great to partner alongside such giving hearts!