By Colin Ingram
Courtney Drew thought all she was doing was helping to set-up and decorate the room of her Grandmother’s elementary school class a few days before school started. She was in middle school at the time and was not expecting the onslaught of thank-you notes she received from the students. From that time on, Courtney desired to be a teacher.
As an elementary and special education major at Delaware State University, Courtney has learned a lot about teaching. Through the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) summer service program, she is now applying what she has learned in the classroom to her work as the assistant director for Garden Chapel’s summer camp in Dover, New Jersey. Her program supervisor is Garden Chapel member Amy Zorilla.
“I start my student teaching soon, so I really feel like this is preparing me to become a teacher because I have different age groups and there’s always a conflict—someone who’s not paying attention or maybe doesn’t concentrate as easily,” Courtney said. “It’s up to me to find a way to keep everyone engaged and make them want to be involved.”
According to Courtney, the overall goal of the camp is to reinforce the Christian faith of the children.
As the assistant director, along with director Vison McCrae, she is responsible for the smooth running of the camp. Some of her responsibilities include filling out paperwork, handling and making registration forms and permission slips, operating parent and camper orientations, and camp counseling.
The six-week Garden Chapel Summer Camp runs from June 29 to August 7. About 25 campers ages 5 to 12 gather from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. The camp operates as two three-week sessions. The kids are from the church and surrounding community.
“I learned from Courtney how to discipline the kids better than I could have on my own and show them to do what they are supposed to,” counselor Ashely Smith said.
When she’s not calming kids or settling their disputes as a counselor, she is helping run the camp activities. The kids learn drama lessons at theatre, make crafts in art lessons, watch movies, play basketball, and jump on a moon bounce during free time. Each day campers have a devotion time before attending two separate Bible studies for older and younger kids. Overseeing the activities has helped prepare her as a teacher to lead children.
“Her authority with the kids makes me think of her as a leader,” counselor Michael McCall said. “She knows what to do and what to say.”
Courtney discovered the MCC service program when she was looking for grants to use for Garden Chapel’s camp. In past summers, Courtney was a camp counselor for Peer Place camp programs.