Summer greetings from The GreenHouse! Kids and teens are wrapping up our summer programs this week with field trips to Sunsplash, "closing ceremonies" with their parents and siblings, and some final pool parties and educational workshops. It's been a remarkable summer of wacky fun, bonding with the kids, weekly excursions far and near, spiritual breakthroughs, and an impressive amount of LEARNING along the way.
We wanted to share some the highlights of how we are seeing YOUNG LIVES CHANGED, "in between the lines" of a fun and safe summer program, as kids embrace the truth of their immense valueand theirlimitless potential.
Kayaking, book clubs, water parks, dividing fractions, homemade peach ice cream, the Parables, wacky costumes, and transformation in the Redwoods. What do all of these things have in common?
They're all things that GreenHouse youth have experienced this summer through our three incredible summer programs: Adventure Zone (elementary age), Summer Academy (middle school), and Liquid (teens):
Top: Teens at a pool party at the Kapicka's house. Top Left, the clockwise: Using the arts to teach life lessons; Teens learn the science of root-beer making; Fun at Swanston Splash Park; Summer Academy students show off their pastel artwork and the songs they learned on recorder over the summer.
In just one short summer we have seen new friendships develop, some academic breakthroughs, stronger ties to The GreenHouse family, and surprising levels of personal transformation among kids and teens. We have witnessed . . .
- Young Leadership Emerging . . . We saw an attitude change with one of our incoming 4th graders from "this is boring" to being a true leader in the competitive games, cheering on his team, being a leader with his younger siblings, and making sure other kids are being respectful to volunteers.
- A Safe and Welcoming Community of Children . . . We saw new kids to our programs fit in quickly with the group, as they were eagerly welcomed in by more veteran children, not hesitating to share love and smiles with kids from a different ethnicities.
:: Deep Discussions about Real Issues . . . We had teaching moments on "What are you going to base your life on?" and "Where do you find your worth?". We had honest discussions about overcoming obstacles in their lives and negative peer pressure to steal, use profanity, and violence. At our away camp for teens, speakers addressed issues of suicide, depression, and fatherlessness head-on.
- Teens Learning to Lead . . . three of our high schoolers were team captains in our Liquid program. It was amazing to see them struggle through how to lead their teams with encouragement and inclusion, and to not just focus not just on their own skills, but on the other youth's abilities in their group (a big challenge for teen boys, in particular!). They learned how to both win and lose with grace, and how to build their other team members up. One teen said, "I feel like we've been trained well for this during our Leaders in Training program, but now we actually get to DO IT! I like having this kind of authority!"
- Long Prayed-For Transformation . . . After YEARS of ongoing conflict and prayers, we have seen an incredible transformation in one young man in particular.Staff observed that he listens more, doesn't frustrate the other teens or disrupt the program as much. They said, "He just seems happier now". He had been hearing positive things about himself from staff for years, and it seems like he is finally began to believe it. We think that he is understanding, perhaps for the first time, that God's love for him is deep, persistent, and can bring healing.
- Teens ExperiencingHealing and Wholeness . . . Twelve GreenHouse teens attended a three day camp at Alliance Redwoods, along with youth and staff from Elevate Life Church. The speaker addressed intensely personal issues like depression, suicide, absent fathers, and drug abuse. EVERY ONE of our youth experienced God's healing touch as deep reservoirs of pain and grief came pouring out in tears. Chains were broken, and burdens were lifted. These teens are in a completely different place in their lives. The struggles at home and school still exist but they know that, besides us being on their side, they have a relationship with a loving God who knows them, and who can walk with them through their challenges.
As these stories reveal, we are seeing transformation in EVERY ASPECT of kids' lives. What an honor! Parents are noticing too. They are coming and telling us about the significant changes they are seeing in their sons and daughters. As children and teens are transformed, families are transformed. As families are transformed, the community is transformed. We are so grateful to be a part of this good, good work of God in this special community.
Top: The lovely ladies of The GreenHouse teen program. Top Left, then clockwise: Summer Academy students plant seeds, veggies, and flowers in our brand new garden bed in front of our clubhouse facility (thanks AJ Michehl!); Summers are for REVIEWING FRACTIONS! (making sure our graduating elementary students are all caught up and ready for Middle School); kids enjoying a day of kayaking and obstacle course at Sac State Aquatic Center, through a grant we received; hands on workshops bring out creativity and self-confidence.
Bottom: Picture with parents and siblings at our end of summer celebration for Adventure Zone.
This summer has been very full of planning, organizing and orchestrating, and it has already been very rewarding! We want to take time to personally thank you for your involvement in the work of The GreenHouse. As each of the staff and volunteers know, this is a job that cannot be done alone.
Your support is so valuable as we continue to create a safe place for these young people to learn more about themselves and the world around them, and grow into their fullest potential.
It's not too late to become a Summer Sponsor to help support these amazing experiences for these special kids. It costs us about $23,000 to run our FREE summer programs for neighborhood kids each year. We're still about $650 short of our goal for summer sponsorships. Any donation helps offset those costs. Thank you for your partnership!!