NEWS RELEASE - August 02, 2016
ENDICOTT, Ky. — Sally Collins embodies the quote, “Cooking with love is food for the soul.” Collins has cooked meals for the children of Floyd County for more than 15 years at Prestonsburg Elementary School. Defying the stereotype of the cafeteria lady serving mystery meat, Collins pours love into every dish.
In 2006, she joined the staff at Christian Appalachian Project’s Camp Shawnee, in Floyd County, Kentucky, to serve the campers and volunteers who take part in the summer camp. Collins is preparing to wrap up her time at camp as the start of another school year draws closer.
“I love working with the kids,” Collins said. “All the food I cook for them is good, but I think the kids really like my spaghetti. That is my favorite meal to fix for them because I know it is something they are going to love.”
Collins knows that feeding boys and girls ages 7 to 15 is a challenge, but she and her staff have worked diligently to take care of the campers and volunteer counselors. “They do a lot of activities – swimming and hiking and going out on the canoe. We make sure they are well-fed.”
During the 2016 camping season, nearly 590 children were served. Camp Shawnee sponsored two weeks of Day Camp. One week was held at Meade Memorial Elementary. The second week they ran camp at two locations simultaneously, Prestonsburg Elementary and Paintsville Elementary. Almost 200 elementary students participated in Day Camp. Five weeks of overnight camp were held, with 392 campers. This included two weeks for teenagers only which is part of a year-long teen development strategy known as the Teen Leadership Program.
The veteran cook and kitchen manager knows that love goes a long way in the preparation of any meal. She and her team served approximately 5,000 meals by the end of the summer. “I enjoy the kids and the counselors. And I am really close to the people I work with too. The counselors are so sweet and friendly. They are just like my children too.”
Her staff is dedicated also. Alma Chapman hails from Plains, Georgia. She has been serving in the kitchen at Camp Shawnee for nearly 5 years. They were joined again this year by Maureen Goodwin, from Raleigh, North Carolina, who started at Camp Shawnee in 2015, and Jon Moran from Levittown, Pennsylvania.
“CAP is a great place to work,” said Collins. “Everybody I knew that had worked at CAP talked about the great people that worked here and how camp was a great place to visit. I wanted to be a part of that.”
Camp Shawnee received a grant that made renovations at the camp possible, including a remodel of the camp kitchen. “In the old kitchen, I had so much to do at one time, it was a struggle. The new renovation gave us a new oven and a warmer. I can just get so much more done,” Collins said with a smile. “I just love my new oven,” she chuckled with joy.
“I love being here each summer, even after serving kids at Prestonsburg Elementary all school year, I love it here,” she said. “But when it’s all over, whether it’s the end of the school year, or the end of camp season, I miss not getting to see everybody.”
Staff and counselors understand that a week at camp is not only about providing fun activities for kids, but also providing the opportunity to learn important life skills such as leadership, self-esteem, and respect for others. The kids love the activities, but what they remember most about camp are the volunteers who cared enough to spend their summer with them.
That is true of the kids as well as the staff, like Collins. She has her own priceless camp memories. “One year, after camp was over and all the kids had gone home, it was time for us to clean up. We started cleaning, and after a little while we started playing a CD by Sugarland. We were cleaning and dancing and laughing and having a good time. It was a lot of fun.”
For more information about summer camps or to learn more about the Teen Leadership Program, visit our website at www.christianapp.org.