Operation Fun History
During the late 1940's members of the Lacy McKenzie Bible Class became involved in working with disadvantaged boys and girls in our community. OPERATION FUN was the name that developed. Once children were selected for the activity, members of the class took them to White Lake. The boys and girls were transported to and from White Lake in the personal automobiles of individual class members. The purpose of the project, a genuine desire to promote Christian fellowship in the community, was fulfilled.
As the Sunday School class continues to show concern and interest in doing more for the young people in our community, the one day outing at the lake became a week at camp. In the summer of 1951 the site chosen camp was Camp Chickagami at White Lake operated by "Skipper" Brothers and his wife. The campers enjoyed Bible study, crafts, sports, swimming, skits, singing, and good food. Camp counselors were church members, high school coaches, college students, and adult women whose children accompanied them. The summer intern from Union Theological Seminary more or less directed the activities for that week at camp. Camp Chickagami continued to be the site of Operation Fun through 1954.
After the opening of Camp Monroe by the Presbytery, Operation Fun was moved there by members of the Lacy McKenzie Bible Class. Even though the site if this outreach ministry changed, the commitment remained the same. Class members continued to work with our local schools in selecting campers. Doctors in our church screened the prospective campers. Again church members served as counselors for the week. We truly served the Lord as we sought to spread the Good News to His children.
As times changed we became aware of the many children living in foster homes throughout the county. Therefore, our church looked to the Robeson County Department of Social Services to select the children for Operation Fun during the 1970's. As a congregation we were not directly involved with the teaching or working with the children at camp. Even though our high school and college age members assisted the paid staff at Camp Monroe, we were unable to touch the lives of the campers as we had done in the past.
At the insistence of many concerned members of the Lacy McKenzie Bible Class, the selection of the Operation Fun nominees was returned to the class in the fall of 1981. The class members elected a screening committee. Once again all organizations within the church - Men of the Church, Women of the Church, and Sunday School classes - became involved in the ministry. The endeavors of the group were so successful that Operation Fun became a committee of the Session in January, 1983.
No organization can function successfully without goals and the structure to make those goals work. One goal was to provide a week of recreation and Christian fellowship beyond the camp experience. Scholarship recopients and their families began attending our Sunday School and church services. Structure and organization are important features of the Operation Fun Committee. A curriculum was written. Criteria for selecting children for camp was established. The committee members solicited the aid of the tachers in our local schools to nominate outstanding, but deserving boys and girls as prospective campers. The recipients of the Operation Fun scholarships were from families who do not ussually receive government benefits. Special attention was also given to the children from single parent families. The scholarship recipients come from all races, ranging in ability from gifted to slow learners.
As with other endeavors of our church, Operation Fun has changed with the times. The original project has undergone numerous changes, but the goals and structure of the ministry remain in place. Our church looks forward to another century and a half of promoting Christian fellowship in the community by reaching out to disadvantaged boys and girls.
For mor information about Operation Fun, please contact the church office.
Reflections from Operation Fun...
This year 48 campers attended the 64th year of Operation Fun. It was a wonderful week under the swaying pine trees and on the cool waters at Camp Monroe where the campers learned to canoe, shoot with a bow and arrow, ride and care for horses, swim in a pool, play field games, dance, and cook s'mores over an open fire. Operation Fun is a week like none other - it is a week of fun but it is also a week of faith, fellowship, and trust. We ask families to entrust us with their children as we take them to another place where we use God's landscape to teach faith in distinctive and lasting ways.
This year was especially memorable because of the number of children who were legacies - their parents had come as children to Operation Fun before them and wanted their child to have the same experience. Do you understand what that says about our mission here at FPC? I spoke to each of these parents as they reflected on their experiences at Camp Monroe many years ago, how it felt to be chosen, how excited it was to have their child chosen, the way the week changed their outlook on faith and what they hoped their child would gain during their time at camp, the excitement they felt on receiving their Bible as a camper, and the joy of knowing their child would receive a Bible and would be studying all week from it...and I wondered, do we even stop when we plan Operation Fun to remember how it changes lives?
This was not my first year at Operation Fun; David and I have been many times over the years as volunteers. But this year was certainly unique. The theme was Fearless Faith. The campers explored stories about Old Testament characters like Abraham and Daniel. They learned that the first tool needed in having a solid faith is the ability to show up, because no matter what God is already present. Knowing the stories of the parents gave me a new vision. They made sure their children showed up. This is a mission that changes lives. Our job doesn't stop when the children return home. If we take our mission seriously, we should be praying that the work begun under the pine trees and on the cool dark waters at Camp Monroe will continue to transform the lives of the 48 campers this year, the 50 last year, and the countless ones over the past 64 years before. Thanks be to God, Eva