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New Experiences for Different Discovery Campers

By: Bethany Williams, Midland Division

Campers from all ages and places gathered at Camp Mihaska’s Discovery Camp and benefitted from stepping out of the box and doing something new.

Clarisha
After hearing about Camp Mihaska’s Discovery camp from friends at The Salvation Army in East St. Louis, Clarisha was excited and somewhat nervous to go to camp since she is rather shy. At the age of 14, Clarisha is a soft spoken young girl, but has found it easy to make friends at Discovery Camp because of a variety of team building activities.

“Don’t be scared about going, just be yourself,” advises Clarisha with a big smile and a giggle.

The main reason for her boost of self-confidence is thanks to the counselors that have encouraged her to break out of her shell.

“I ask my counselors every year how old I have to be to work with them,” says Clarisha. “I love all of the counselors and I want to be one someday too.”

Counselors at the Discovery Camp typically are young adults above the age of 18 that are primarily college students. Besides interacting with other kids, Clarisha has learned how to act and speak appropriately toward adults.

Clarisha’s favorite memories of camp include paintballing and “ga-ga ball” because each activity required team interaction and hard work. From her experience at Discovery Camp, Clarisha believes that she has become a friendlier person and is looking forward to coming back next year.

Raven
At the age of 13, Raven Lawrence also is a reserved teenage girl, but has found Discovery Camp as a way to branch out and try new things.

Raven volunteers to play the drums at The Salvation Army in East St. Louis and heard about the summer camps at Camp Mihaska from other volunteers. While this is Raven’s fourth summer at camp, every year she pushes herself to try something new.

This year at Discovery Camp, Raven faced her fear of heights by climbing up the 30-foot rock wall and zip lining across the open fields to a platform below. From this adventure, Raven says she has learned to place trust in her counselors and friends.

From the various bible classes, Raven has found trust in God.

“I know that the Lord has everything I need,” says Raven. “When I leave camp, I am a different person. I listen and I care about others.”

After watching the guest performer David Cain’s juggling act, Raven felt inspired by his faith in the Lord to do such amazing and dangerous acts. Raven looks forward to coming back to Camp Mihaska.

Evander
As a high school student, Evander Hargrove at first did not want to come to Discovery Camp because he thought he was too old for summer camps. As a 16 year-old from Euclid, Evander said he would rather spend his time wrestling and playing football in order to prepare for his high school season.

However, his younger cousin, who attended Discovery Camp last year, convinced Evander that he would have a blast and make many new friends. So, Evander decided to give Discovery Camp a chance.

A few days into the camp, Evander  made several friends and loves playing “ga-ga ball”. Most importantly, Evander feels that he has been enlightened by the people at camp that introduced him to the Bible. He hopes to continue learning more about God and His teachings.

Supporting our troops by volunteering at home

By: Danni Eickenhorst, Midland Division

On Tuesday, November 22, Angel Lewis, Chris Word and their family arrived at the Salvation Army in East St. Louis as volunteers, ready to serve a Thanksgiving luncheon to the church and community at large. The mother and son were on a unique mission to give back.

“Over the thanksgiving holiday, we decided to volunteer at the local Salvation Army in East St. Louis in support of my brother PFC Greg Lewis, who is now serving in the United States Army in Afghanistan. In July, my brother along with the rest of his unit was deployed to Afghanistan to complete a year-long tour. As a way to support him for his service to the country, as well as the service of the rest of the military forces, my mother and I decided that we could at least spend a few hours during the holiday season and volunteer our time,” said Word..”

“I was put in charge of the turkey and ham pans, while my mother was given the dressing and macaroni and cheese. Over the next few hours, we would not only greet and serve the people, but we would also get to know the other volunteers. What started out as a novel idea, provided to be one of the most rewarding experiences of our Thanksgiving holiday. We chose to partner with The Salvation Army in this experience because we’ve seen them as a community service leader in East St. LouisThe family videotaped and photographed their experience and shared it with their soldier, a gesture of love and thanksgiving for his sacrifice this holiday season.

Moving Forward: The Salvation Army Helps Frederick Davis Leave the Past Behind

By: Danni R. Eickenhorst, Content Specialist, Midland Division 

At first blush, Frederick Davis does not seem like a man once dodging bullets and strung out on crack, but on a sunny May afternoon, Fred recounts his past in the East St. Louis Salvation Army Corps chapel with candor, including two prison stints and many failed attempts at rehabilitation.

Davis stands near the van he drives for the East St. Louis Corps.

The former football star attended East St. LouisSenior High School and was recruited to play for the Universityof Wisconsin at Whitewater. He played two years in Wisconsin, when he was transferred to Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Upon arriving in Carbondale, Davis began to party as most college students do.  His addictions began with alcohol, and in time extended into narcotics.

As Davis’ substance abuse began to affect his life, he found himself on academic probation and eventually back in Wisconsin. By the late 1980’s, Davis dropped out of college and started working at a local rental center. In 1989, Davis was charged with possession of narcotics and sentenced to probation and treatment. The next 6 years of his life would be a series of rehab attempts, relapses and job losses.

In 1995, Davis recalls that he was deep in his addiction when he found himself convicted of aggravated robbery and robbery, a crime that came with a hefty 7 year sentence. Davis served 3 ½ years and was released on good behavior. He was rehired at a former employer and worked toward a new start, with the help of a 12-step addiction program. In time, without a support system, however, Davis relapsed once again.

In 2003, Davis was given what he is determined will be his final conviction. He was convicted of residential burglary and robbery and sentenced to 14 years in prison. The conviction and sentencing was a pivotal moment in Davis’s life. As he recalls the pivotal moment in the dimly lit chapel, a visible spark lights up his face.

“Along the way, I made some bad choices,” recalls Davis, “but today I don’t make bad choices, because being in the right state of mind allows me to make good decisions.”

The weight of the substantial conviction was the catalyst Davis needed to make real and lasting change. Instead of attending yet another 90 or 180 day rehab program, Davis chose to stay in treatment for the length of the 6 ½ years he served. At Southwestern Illinois Correction Center, Davis entered a state-run program designed to train and license inmates as technicians in the substance abuse field.

While in prison, Davis suffered devastating losses, including the deaths of two of his brothers, one from a drug overdose. While in prison, his mother fell ill with cancer and worried she wouldn’t see him paroled.

Davis was released from prison in April of 2009, and was able to spend a full 11 months with his mother prior to her passing. “I’m angry with the disease of addiction that it cost me so much time with my mother, but I’m thankful for the time I got to spend with her,” said Davis.

When he was released, one of his first stops was at the East St. Louis Salvation Army Corps. The corps was able to assist Fred in finding assistance, resources, clothing and food. When Fred was able to get on his feet, he decided to volunteer for the corps in an effort to give back.

“When I was born, I didn’t come out saying, ‘I want to be an addict,’ and I have created a lot of problems for a lot of people in this life. I want to do something to give back.”

The Corps was so impressed with Davis’s performance as a volunteer that they offered him a part time position when it became available.

“The Salvation Army opened the door and gave me an opportunity when no one else would and I truly appreciate it,” says Davis, adding that daily work in an environment that so strongly supports his sobriety has helped him to stay clean. Davis has been sober for more than 8 years.

Fred admits that sobriety is a struggle saying, “The disease of addiction is powerful, baffling and cunning,” but credits his involvement with Narcotics Anonymous and The Salvation Army with giving him the skills and support to remain sober in the face of devastating losses.

Fred holds an Associates degree in liberal arts, and is in the process of enrolling in a 4 year program through Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville in Psychology, and dreams of becoming a social worker, helping addicts attain sobriety.

Davis says that next step in his path is to serve an internship in order to complete his substance abuse counselor certificate, but that he is having difficulty finding a program that will accept him with a felony conviction. Still, Davis exudes an air of unassuming hopefulness.

“I’m not going backwards. I’m going forwards,” and despite the setback, Davis simply says, “I ask God and I am just being patient and humble, and hope that He opens the doors for me. I know if I could, you know, do good and be positive and productive, then I know that I could help somebody else to get there.”

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