For kids and parents in the Bay Minette community, Light of the City is a safe haven and a second home. Each summer, 150 kids gather at an old, formerly segregated school in Bay Minette to make friends, play games and learn, all free of charge. The Light of the City summer camp runs four days a week for six weeks each summer from June 7 until July 15. While the camp is limited to 150 spots, there is a waiting list for children who are eager to be a part of the experience.
A day in the life of a summer camper at Light of the City consists of structure balanced with lots of fun. When the kids first show up, they’ve already registered and filled out all the necessary paperwork. At the beginning of the summer, each kid is assigned to a group based on their age and gender. Each group has a college intern who is in charge with the help of a couple of additional teen leaders. Then, it’s off to lunch where each child gets to eat and share memories with new friends. The following hours consist of different rotations including Bible studies, music, games and outdoor time. While the program only lasts six weeks, Light of the City is also an after-school program so that kids have the option to continue all year-round with retired teachers and volunteers from the community of Bay Minette.
The Light of the City after-school program mirrors sister program, Light of the Village in Mobile. A former drug house turned sanctuary, John Eads and his wife began Light of the Village to provide for the children of the community. While the programs target two different neighborhoods, the focus remains the same: to show the kids and parents of the inner-city communities the love of Christ and provide them with the tools and resources to learn and mature in a safe environment.
A program like Light of the City that provides continuous care and individual attention for kids free of charge is priceless to the parents and kids. Around 95% of kids in the program are low income and are on the “reduced lunch” program. All the children are African American. The camps provide a space for these kids to grow and learn in a safe and nurturing environment. Plus, the kids don’t age out either. At the age of 15, kids are able to become teen leaders and run the camps, while earning some money.
For anyone who would like to get involved or support Light of the City, John Eads, director and co-founder of Light of the Village, is always looking for individuals to tutor kids, donate school supplies, or sponsor snacks or a community day. It’s very easy for volunteers to get involved and donations are gladly accepted whether it’s time or resources. Another way to help is to receive training from Light of the City with the goal of going out into communities around the country and starting similar programs across the nation in inner cities. To learn more about Light of the City or how to get involved, contact Barbara Brown at 251-421-3381 or John Eads at 251-680-4613.