Soul Food

Melody Lipford, Columnist •

Last weekend, I was able to serve at one of my favorite service sites, River’s Way. The weekend-respite program at Emory & Henry college lasted three days from Friday evening till Sunday morning. The program hosted activities varying in multiple areas such as art, music, film, theater, nature, and more.

The program had returning campers join for the weekend along with returning volunteers and those new to serving with River’s Way. Overall, it is a unique experience to interact with other campers and volunteers as well as observe the new relationships form between new volunteers and campers.

I believe it is important for our communities and should be more common to have members interact with those of all abilities. It is critical to help develop an accepting and loving society for all members included, regardless of differences we may have with one another. Opportunities such as River’s Way encourages this development and is important to the Emory & Henry community and for society at large.

Activities hosted Friday included dinner with volunteers and campers as well as viewing the film, Moana. Saturday, campers did a nature scavenger hunt and were able to use their imagination to look for “ingredients” or items outside they could use for their new restaurant. Campers and volunteers split up into teams, gathered “ingredients” and created their own signature appetizers, main entrees, side dishes, and dessert.

Each team then presented their menu and received awards based on creativity, quality, and presentation. Activities like these are great for the campers regarding physical exercise, using their imagination, sensory learning, as well as kinesthetic learning.

After lunch, River’s Way traveled to Barter Theater to take campers to attend the play, The Music Man. Overall, campers had nothing, but glowing reviews of the play considering their grins from ear to ear, loud applause, and singing of the music even after the show had concluded. River’s Way encourages activities such as these which encourage campers to have artistic expression whether musical, acting, drawing, singing, and more that help campers to have fun and feel confident.

Saturday’s activities concluded with baking chocolate chip and sugar cookies paired with a Home Alone marathon considering the arrival of the holiday season.

On Sunday morning, campers and volunteers were able to reflect and discuss activities of the weekend before campers returned home with their families.

Overall, the weekend-respite program was successful for both campers, volunteers, and staff alike. Personally, I enjoyed serving at this site again and would recommend and even encourage other volunteers to join for future River’s Way programs held at Emory & Henry college.

Unfortunately, last weekend was the final program for the semester, but three more programs will be held at the college starting next semester. Please feel free to contact me or others involved with River’s Way if you would like further information concerning volunteering at River’s Way.

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