We are so incredibly excited to announce as a board, that registration for the 2021 Wonderfully Made Family Camp will open for campers and volunteers on April 1, 2021!
This years camp will be held the weekend of August 19-22, 2021. You may register for camp as a camper by visiting the Hidden Acres Camp website, and choosing Wonderfully Made Family Camp as the drop down camp option. The cost is $50 per family, regardless of size. Preference will be given to 1st time families and a first come first served basis for any returning families. Once you have registered your family, the Family Coordinator will be in contact with you.
Volunteers can register by clicking HERE. Where you will be asked to give pertinent information including information for a full background check. There is no cost to volunteer. Once you have registered, the Volunteer Coordinator will contact you.
We are unbelievably excited to Join you all at camp this year!
Earlier this week, the Wonderfully Made Family Camp (WMFC) planning team made a difficult decision. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak and the need to protect the health of the vulnerable children we serve, the 2020 WMFC has been canceled. However the next camp will be scheduled for the summer of 2021. We hope WMFC 2021 will be better than ever. We encourage you to visit the camp website at [www.wonderfullymadecamp.org](http://www.wonderfullymadecamp.org/) or the the Wonderfully Made Family Camp group on Facebook ([https://www.facebook.com/groups/173402716336264/](https://www.facebook.com/groups/173402716336264/)) to stay up-to-date with new developments. We will have a Flea Market (originally scheduled for April) in October to raise funds for our 2021 WMFC. Prayers for our families would be greatly appreciated.
The WMFC annual 5K fundraiser will be held on Saturday, May 4 at Big Creek State Park near Polk City. The race begins at 9 AM near Shelter House #3 and is open to runners, walkers, and people who use mobility devices like wheelchairs and walkers.
Click here to register online or register in person on the day of the race. The registration fee ($25 for runners and walkers, $15 for participants with special needs) includes a t-shirt and the pancake feed after the race.
The 5K planning committee is looking for volunteers to help with set up, the pancake feed, and tear down. If you would like to volunteer for part or all of the morning, click this link for more information. If you’re busy on May 4, you can still help publicize the 5K by sharing this link with your friends and on social media.
Race proceeds will go into the fund that pays for 40 special needs families to attend the Wonderfully Made Family Camp (WMFC) at Hidden Acres Christian Center May 30–June 2, 2019.
Attention all bargain shoppers! You won’t want to miss the Pre-Owned Treasures Sale on April 13 at the Johnston Lions Club (6501 Merle Hay Road in Johnston). The doors open at 9:00 AM and close at 2:00 PM.
The sale will raise funds for the 2019 Wonderfully Made Family Camp. The camp, held at Hidden Acres Christian Center north of Ogden, serves 40 Iowa special needs families, many of them from the metro area. You can participate in this worthy cause in several ways.
First, you can drop off donations at our trailer in the First Assembly of God parking lot (2725 Merle Hay Road in Des Moines) April 9, 10, and 11 between 4 and 7 pm. Or drop them off the day before the sale at the Johnston Lions Club (6501 Merle Hay Road in Johnston) between 9 AM and 5 PM.
Second, use this online form to volunteer in a variety of ways. Volunteers are needed to supervise donation collection April 9–11, to prepare for the sale on April 12, and to help with the sale on April 13. Check out the online form for more information.
Third, shop at the sale between 9 and 2 on April 13. Lunch will be served, as well as snacks, so bring the whole family and make a day of it!
When I was asked to share about my favorite memory from camp, I didn’t know where to start. There are just so many great memories!! My name is Beth Castile, and I am the special needs ministry leader at Valley Church. I have been on the WMFC planning team since 2015. One of my main roles is communicating and connecting with the volunteers.
I’m always amazed at God’s faithfulness in providing the variety of workers needed to make this event successful. We all come with different backgrounds, different stories, and different gifts. I love to see these gifts used to honor God and bless others. I feel honored to get to hear these stories as I serve with the volunteers. God has a plan for each of them, and we certainly have a purpose for each of them! I enjoy seeing how this puzzle comes together.
For example, one family reached out because they wanted to serve together. They had adopted a young girl from China. Perfect! I paired the mom and daughter with a camper who was also adopted from China. An instant bond was formed, minds were set at ease, and a relationship blossomed. The father and older daughter of this family served together in a different capacity, but the whole family really connected with this camper and her family. After camp ended, the volunteer family asked about connecting with their camper. That’s what I love–seeing God in the details to make a lasting impact and form those bonds.
Another volunteer that served for the first time in 2018. He had a camper that was more active and was worn out each day. But the volunteer loved it and was grateful to be with his camper. He thought about his campers’ parents; they have to be exhausted all the time! He was glad the parents got some rest and connected with each other. He now knows how valuable that time is for parents and now helps at Valley Church respite events. He even was a one on one buddy for a high school student on the church’s fall retreat.
Finally, I am blessed with children of my own who love to serve, especially at the Wonderfully Made Family Camp. To see their hearts grow for others and sharing the love of God so campers can have a full camp experience is priceless! Whether my kids are telling a puppet story, helping with a craft, carrying food trays, flying on the giant swing, paddling a boat, chasing campers across the grounds, or sitting together, they enjoy every moment. They know they are making a difference, and their enthusiasm is contagious. They are excited to encourage their friends to volunteer at camp, run the WM5K, or help at a respite event. Their excitement shines the love of Jesus on others.
Wonderfully Made Family Camp (WMFC) was created to offer an authentic camp experience to families raising children with special needs. Every year WMFC utilizes over 100 volunteers–from one-on-one buddies to program directors, from a camp doctor to horse barn workers and more–to make camp a reality for the 40 families who attend.
WMFC 2019 will be held at Hidden Acres Christian Center from May 30–June 2. If you want to be a volunteer, the camp board invites you to apply online here. Because the camp serves a vulnerable population, the application process includes a rigorous background check. Volunteers also receive online and in person training to equip them to work with the children being served at camp, and meals and lodging are provided for all volunteers. Click on this link to begin the online application process.
If you have questions, you can leave them in the comment section below or at the WMFC Volunteer Facebook page. One of the camp board members will reply as soon as possible.
The WMFC planning board is happy to announce that the 2019 camp will be held from May 30–June 2. Families can register, starting January 1, 2019. The only cost is a $50 registration fee. As in previous years, the camp has room for 40 families.
Jennifer Schwartz is today’s guest blogger. She reflects back on what touched each member of her family of 5 at WMFC, 2018.
In April 2016 we went from a “normal” family to a “special needs family” when our son’s doctor said Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. He was 3 1/3-years-oldwhen he was diagnosed with this random genetic mutation, which doesn’t allow his muscles to repair themselves. Over time he will continue to lose muscular function.
The year after our son’s diagnosis we found out about Wonderfully Made Family Camp (WMFC). We didn’t know what to expect when we prepared for a few days at Hidden Acres. To our surprise and enjoyment, we found a weekend tailor made for families facing any kind of special needs or disability challenge. We knew our son would benefit, but we didn’t realize how much this was a positive experience for the whole family.
The planning members thought of everything. We had a buddy assigned to our son who was prepared to handle his medical needs and listen to every instruction we shared, no matter how big or small. Sometime we forget how much of their childhood siblings give up sitting at doctors appointments, being caretaker. Both siblings (younger and older) had special times where they got to try new things Our older daughter’s favorite is the climbing wall and zip line. Our younger son loved the nursery team. And we all loved pool time.
Parents got special attention too. There was a pampering spa. My personal favorite was going on a trail ride with a friend who I have bonded with because of camp. My husband was free to take a long run with another camp volunteer. These are all things we don’t get to do often given our regular responsibility and caregiving hours.
Camp gave us time to meet other families without the need to explain our situation. They get it right away. We have continued these relationships and the families have become part of our regular support network. The faith focus of camp made it all the more special. We had deeper conversations than can usually be bad. There were prayers for families and the struggles they face, and we worshipped as a group. Reflection time as a family and individually was also nice. This camp and all the volunteers who carved out time to make it unique and uplifting for the families that attend… are truly unique and a pure representation of servant leadership.
WMFC has been such a blessing to our family. We enjoyed the relaxing weekend at a great facility and the opportunity to connect with other families in the special needs space with God at the center of discussions.
Wonderfully Made Family Camp has been THE highlight of the summer for me the last three years. As a board member my role varies from training volunteers to heading men’s group to being all around “go-fer” wherever I might be needed. In these various capacities I get to participate in pretty much every aspect of the weekend.
One particular memory was of a rambunctious 4 year old in a wheelchair. This delightful guy was pure charisma. While a group congregated at the fire pit making s’mores, he wheeled around everyone with great finesse, having a blast, as were those watching him. Not having any clue of my love for “punny” comebacks in any situation, he steered up to me, looked me straight in the eyes as I stooped down to be at his level. Slowly, ever so methodically and with absolute authority, he stated “I didn’t come here to listen to your lousy jokes!” This kid obviously has the gift of prophecy.
Shortly thereafter, a teen volunteer I know well gave this same dynamic youngster his beloved cowboy hat which he had coveted all evening. This act of Christian love brought tears to my eyes as I watched the extreme pleasure it brought to the giver and to the receiver as well as to his parents who watched the entire transaction transpire. This is one of many reasons I so greatly enjoy participating in WMFC.
~ Kim Combes, WMFC planning board member and expert punster