Today, August 1, wraps up Falmouth’s first Summer of Service (SOS) camp, a week-long program that mixes fun and games with community service. The camp was founded by the Reverend Jonathan Drury, the minister at the First Congregational Church of Falmouth.
On Wednesday morning, July 30, four campers, a teenage counselor, and Mr. Drury were busy pulling brush and weeds from the yard of an elderly Waquoit resident.
Mr. Drury explained that while he recognizes the value of service missions to far-away places, “I really wanted the young people to respond to some of the need in their local community.”
After some difficult hand sawing, the children succeeded in felling a small tree that was tangled in briars.
“Jonathan!” 9-year-old Kyra Cole called out, running over to the minister. “I just pushed the tree—and it went ‘whoomp.’ ”
“Kyra, I’m impressed,” Mr. Drury said. “You are a powerful person.”
On further inspection the tree turned out to be a wild cherry tree. “Colin,” Mr. Drury teased the boy with the saw, “You’ll have to admit you were the one who chopped down the cherry tree.”
The children were working at the home of an elderly woman with knee problems. The work crew had connected with her through Neighborhood Falmouth, a nonprofit that helps seniors stay in their homes. SOS counselor Rachel M. Gilbert, 16, explained that the woman wanted the group to clear her side yard so that her neighbors to the north had a clear path to her house. “Because her neighbors come over to help her and she wanted to make it completely clear for them,” Rachel said.
Rachel said the woman (who preferred not to be identified) was very grateful for the visiting helpers. On Monday, the woman was “in tears when we left,” Rachel said, placing her hand on her heart with a look of sympathy.
“You could tell she just really wanted someone to talk to. I actually gave her my phone number [and said] ‘If you want to hang out, just call me.’ ”
There are 21 campers and counselors in SOS, ranging in age from 9 to 18. Most of them are members of the church. Mr. Drury said he plans to offer two week-long programs next year. “My hope is it will really take off,” he said. “It’s not theological bible camp. It’s just an opportunity for the kids to do good work and hang out with each other.”
Campers also cleared garden beds at the Mullen-Hall Elementary School garden, conducted a food drive at Stop & Shop for the Falmouth Service Center, made lunch for a Habitat for Humanity work crew, and played games with residents of the Royal Falmouth Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Main Street.
Camp is from 9 AM to 3 PM and costs $125. Campers split up into work groups for the morning, return to the church to eat lunch, and then do activities such as tie-dying and water games in the afternoon.