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Angels In Our Midst

Angels In Our Midst

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ANGELS IN OUR MIDST (Inaugural Kids Unlimited Summer Camp)

Updated: Monday, June 23 2014, 07:29 PM CDT

Sara Papantonio, June 2012;  "If we each year, pulled in someone younger than us to carry on the camp for the next year.  That way, we can leave our mark on this community in one way or another."

That was Sara Papantonio's hope in June 2012 at the end of the Inaugural Kids Unlimited Summer Camp.  Her plan was to pass the torch of fund raising, organizing and running the camp to her Co-Founder, Mollie Johnson.

Mollie Johnson;  "One more minute. One more minute. Finish your skits. Quickly, finish your skits."
And with just one look around the Legion Field Community Center, you can see that, in its third year, the camp is flourishing and the legacy lives on.

Mollie Johnson, Kids Unlimited Co-Founder;  "Just being blessed with this beautiful new location and we have so much space to grow and we have around 80 to 90 campers this year, which is way more than we had the first two years."

The scope of the camp has broadened too.  There are plenty of daily activities throughout the week,; motivational guest speakers, arts, crafts, theatre.

LuTimothy May, Jr., Camper; "And do games and dance.  It is just so much fun."
Like in years past, Kids Unlimited has had no problem recruiting staff to run the camp.  They are the new high school recruits and returning counselors; some heading off to college after this camp.

Mike Hawkins;  Second Year Staffer;  "When you kind of connect with them like that, it's kind of cool.  You try to get to know them and take things on their level.  I've really enjoyed that and, hopefully, it looks like they've been enjoying it, too."

For the counselors and the campers, those connections make an impact that will last well beyond this week.  The commitment that these teens make to this project, is not lost on these younger children.  Just ask them about their favorite counselor ...

Saniyah Marioneaux, Camper; "I have many favorites actually.  They're so generous, sweet, kind, and they help us a lot through everything.  And if there's a problem, they'll deal with it immediately.  And I just love the fact that they're here to help us out."

LuTimothy May, Jr., Camper;  "I have a lot of favorites but I'll just say one; I would say, Mollie.  She's amazing.  She does anything for us.  She doesn't get mad.  She's just so easy-going and does stuff for us.  And she, whenever I walk in, it just makes me have a smile on my face."

Their devotion and success have enabled them to keep the support of financial sponsors, they have an impressive list of counselors in waiting, and now, it is time to pass the torch to next year's leadership and Madeline Holifield says she is ready.  

Mollie;  "Sara and I, we talked about it a lot.  Camp is like our baby, you know. 
Definitely, choosing someone was a big process for us, but, we really just looked for someone who was not only passionate about kids but also passionate about making a difference."

Madeline Holifield, Taking the Reins of Kids Unlimited;  "I really want to stick to our quote of Learning Today, Leading Tomorrow and inspiring the kids.  We have to work really hard to pick younger kids that we feel can live up to the expectations of the camp and really keep it going."

Sara made it home from college to take a back seat as a staff member this year and she loves what she sees.

Sara Papantonio, Kids Unlimited Founder;  "I'm also so glad that I have the ability to trust them with this legacy that I've left because it's just such a great thing . And I'd hate to see it stop of fizzle out but I don't see that happening anytime in the near future because they're doing such a good job."

Angels in our Midst is brought to you by the Children's Hospital at Sacred Heart.

ANGELS IN OUR MIDST (Inaugural Kids Unlimited Summer Camp)

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