Local News Archive
Print Issue: July 2, 1981
Family Volunteers At Camp: 'Hard Work, But Good Work'
By Thea Jarvis
Every morning for two weeks this past June, a small band of cars pulled up quietly by
Fran Wallers Dunwoody curb at 7:30 a.m.
It was the All Saints squadron of Camp Promise volunteers, on their way to Saint Anthonys Church in southwest Atlanta where hundreds of energetic, summer-loving anticipating children awaited them.
Im so glad I went, said Fran enthusiastically. It was a very enriching experience. The children are really appreciative of everything--they respond to love.
Fran, the mother of six children, the youngest of whom is 17, got her whole family into gear for the two-week production.
They all helped with meals and laundry, pitching in and helping--making it easier for me to give of myself, she said. Different ones gathered things to send down to use--tennis balls, scotch tape, yarn. When I got home they wanted to know the happenings of the day.
Two of Frans children Angela, 22 and Kathy, 19 traveled to Saint Anthonys on those early mornings to assist in the classroom. Their volunteer days were scheduled to fit the demands of school and jobs
Together with Sister Marguerite, a Religious from Pennsylvania who will remain at the camp until the end of July, they supervised arts and crafts, reading and community-building for 33 nine-year-olds, staying until two oclock when the children went outside for games, sports and recreation.
The girls were skeptical at first, said Fran of her daughters reaction. But immediately the children make you feel youre needed--like This is the place I should be right now.
Angela Waller considered her time at Camp Promise quite an adventure.
You never knew what was going to happen or what the children were going to say, she laughed. She found the children very affectionate, anxious to sit in your lap, hold your hands.
Like most of the volunteers, Angela admitted it was very tiring, a time when you give totally of yourself. But, she said, Im glad I did it. If mother goes back, I probably will, too. Id like to work with the little ones in the day care center.
A sense of humor is a requirement for all Camp Promise volunteers. Fran Wallers favorite story is of the day the field trip fell through.
One Friday, Sister Marguerite and I were going swimming with the kids. A bus wasnt available so I borrowed a pickup truck from my husbands service station, she remembered with a gleam in her eye.
The truck was all cleaned and shiny for the occasion. The children were so excited to be riding in a truck! she continued. Some teenagers rode in the back with them and we all took off for the pool.
But when the hot and dusty bunch arrived, they found the pool closed to all comers.
They did get their ride in the truck, said Fran, and a nature walk in the vicinity of Saint Anthonys provided last-minute entertainment.
According to Fran, that nature walk was really a lulu. Sister Marguerite had on a pair of sandals with heels and hose and was heard to observe wryly, Im really dressed for the occasion...
After they picked their way gingerly through trees and briars, an exhibit hall was waiting at the end of the trail. There the children combined pine cones and leaves to make a take home project.
There were some animals too--and a real live skunk. The children were covering their eyes, fearing a spray of unwanted scent from the rarely seen four-footer, said Fran. They had a full day that day and so did we!
At Saints Peter and Paul Church in Decatur, Camp Promise is also in full swing. Parishioner Pat Schadl generously donated her afternoons from noon to four oclock teaching art to summer campers. Her charges range in age from five through 13 years and she works with them in groups throughout the day.
It has been hectic, but I can see the very positive attitude everyone has, Pat observed. The program is so well-rounded that I cant imagine any child being unhappy about being here. Theres enough to hold their interest.
Saints Peter and Pauls camp included reading and math skill-building as well as art, crafts and recreational periods. A number of sports are offered as well as modern dance, movies and--a real treat--a magician to delight the churchs young visitors.
Pat Shadls two sons, Mark, nine, and Scotty, 10, accompany their mother on her afternoon jaunts to Camp Promise. Both boys area students at Saints Peter and Paul School and are right at home for the summer activities.
The come and assist and thoroughly enjoy it, said Pat. They understand what the program is about and feel I am really big! when they are able to help.
Like Fran Waller, Judy Schroll is making Saint Anthonys Camp Promise her summer outreach. And with five busy children of her own ranging in age from four through 15, giving up a Monday each week during the summer cant be easy.
But Judy does it with grace, style and good humor. The Saint Thomas Aquinas parishioner from Alpharetta claimed its good for (my) kids. I dont let them watch television and the televisions probably on all the time when Im gone! They like the responsibility of being on their own--the freedom.
Judys Monday officially begins when a car pool from Saint Thomas leaves at 7:45 a.m. She returns home after five oclock in the evening and admits, It is a distance, but if its only one day a week you have the rest of the week to recuperate!
At Saint Anthonys, Judy takes charge of about 30 six- and seven-year-olds. Helping out in the classroom has been her nine-year-old daughter, Mary.
Judys home-front policy was Whoever wanted to come, could come, and Mary elected to accompany her mother while her brothers and sisters tackled the laundry and housecleaning at home.
Mary has been my legs, Judy said proudly. She really helps me a lot, getting art supplies and assistance when I need it. And she thoroughly enjoys it.
Fourth grader Mary Schroll described her duties in no-nonsense terms. I read to the class and take them to the bathroom. Its fun!
Her mother readily concurred, noting the fellowship that has followed from the camps activities.
Im sure its helping. The kids like it a lot. Theyre all from different schools but they get along even though they dont know each other well.
For the Wallers, the Schadls, the Schrolls and others like them, working at Camp Promise has offered the opportunity to be a part of a large community in which people are reaching out to others in a generous spirit of concern and caring.
Many people feel its a waste of time--that it cant be done, said Judy Schroll, reflecting on the immensity of the summer undertaking. Its work--hard work--but good work.
And the work--and the workers--go on. Camp Promise continues.