The Rainbow Express: Churches, agency host music and arts camp
By Susan Shinn
“The Rainbow Express” was an apt title for the music and arts camp finale that took place last week, because it included a spectrum of abilities and talents and experiences.
There were kids from St. John’s Lutheran Church, kids from Soldiers Memorial AME Zion Church and kids from The Arc, a United Way agency ó the three sponsoring groups.
On Friday, some 70 children presented the story of Noah’s Ark with “The Rainbow Express” musical.
The enthusiastic audience of parents and grandparents and siblings and friends oohed and ahhed and smiled and clapped.
The more time you spent there, the more you realized it was just a group of kids having fun, getting to know one another and doing all the things you usually do at summer day camp.
There was music and arts ó of course ó and there was crafts and movement and laughing and dancing and snacks!
A great week all around.
Every morning, the kids gathered to see the newest additions on the wall of pictures.
“They love it,” said Rosemary Kinard last week as she added the previous day’s snapshots. Kinard, of St. John’s, was associate camp facilitator.
During morning time, the children studied the story of Noah’s Ark and other covenants God made with people in the Old Testament. Pastor Mary Hardin of Soldiers led this time together.
Then it was time to break up into small groups for various activities for the rest of the morning.
“They’re making friends,” said Rob Durocher, St. John’s director of music ministries and the camp’s facilitator. “It’s really neat to watch.”
With his rich tenor voice, Dr. Grant Harrison of Soldiers led groups of children in learning their music for “The Rainbow Express” presentation. Accompanying him on piano was his wife, Joanne.
The kids accomplished much in a short time, Harrison said.
“This week, we have had some first-time soloists and first-time public speakers,” he said.
Not soloist Sage Staley, who sings in church at Soldiers.
“On the first page is my part,” Sage said.
On Friday, Sage belted out that part ó and was pitch perfect.
She said that her favorite part of camp was seeing her pastor and her friends.
Sage will be 7 on Oct. 6.
“All my friends are all 7, but I’m 6,” she said.
As you may expect from such a large undertaking, there were volunteers galore.
Yorke Reynolds, a recent N.C. State grad, took over the set design.
Helping her were her neighbors, twins Ben and Alex Blumenthal, 6.
Alex said his favorite thing about the week were painting clouds, although he and his brother seemed happiest climbing through a tunnel of furniture boxes.
Reynolds said she hoped to get a job this week chemical engineering.
She said she most enjoyed working with The Arc kids.
“People say they can’t do things and they really can,” she said.
The arts and crafts room was abuzz with activity as different groups rotated through.
Carol Hair coordinated this activity and Jo Vargas, a friend of Reynolds’ from State, led these groups.
Vargas is taking a year off before med school to go to Disney College. She hopes to become a pediatrician, focusing on special needs. She’s volunteered with the Autism Society and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Vargas said she liked helping kids understand how to do things and said they all had a good interaction with one another.
St. John’s members Rebecca Agner, 12, and her sister Laura, 10, were back for a second year of day camp.
Rebecca and Laura were expertly assembling Chrismons.
Rebecca said she liked dancing the best. She’s been a dancer for seven years.
Laura said the Chrismons were no problem for her, because she’d already made them in weekday church school.
Upstairs, campers worked with Debbie Hoffman on motions for all the songs in the play.
“Shake, shake, shake that family tree!” Hoffman called out as the kids waved their hands in the air for the “Begat” song.
Then they practiced “The Rainbow Song,” with a slower tempo. The song ends with the children kneeling, their hands in prayer.
“It looks beautiful!” Hoffman said. “It just makes goosebumps come on my skin.”
Campers Michael Jones and Anna-Gregory Shue both named the Cha-Cha Slide, a freestyle dance, as their favorite song. Jessica Hackworth said her favorite song in the show was the “Begat” song.
Volunteer Derek Sjoblom of St. John’s and a junior at East Carolina, said he was looking for “a constructive way to spend my time in the morning.”
“It’s just exciting to see everyone fully in it and participating,” he said. “Music cures everything.”
Jason Huebner is St. John’s director of youth and family ministries, coordinated the student volunteers.
While all the groups participating had differences, he said, they had much more in common.
Every child has a special gift, Huebner noted.
For example, he said, Josh Parker, one of the Arc campers, has a loving personality, and is always ready to give a hug and a smile.
At that moment, Josh appeared and did just that.
Then Josh pointed to a line in the stack of papers he was holding.
“We are just like one big family.”