Having a safe place to send their children during the summer is always a concern for working parents. Two local churches are offering an answer.
The churches have scheduled summer camps where children will be supervised while they enjoy fun activities and learn Bible lessons.
"Parents can put their children in a safe, friendly, welcoming environment at Faith Kids Camp," said Drew Taylor, recreational director at Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville. "We have a limit of 50 children per week, so we're able to give them one-on-one attention."
Taylor said he has help from 14 staff members, including some high school students who are active in the church.
Taylor's camp began this past week and will continue weekdays through July 11. Next week, the camp children will attend vacation Bible school for part of their day.
From June 23 to 27, there will be a basketball camp.
"We focus on individual instruction and play games, do competitions," Taylor said. "We bring in current and past high school players from the area to be coaches. The week is focused strictly on basketball."
The remaining weeks of camp focus on games, Bible lessons, arts and crafts, and drama.
"The kids play organized sports like basketball, soccer, volleyball and dodgeball," Taylor said. "We have team-building activities, and they learn to work together and teach leadership principles."
Taylor said he wants the kids to have a good time, but also learn about Christ through the devotionals and lessons taught each day.
"The kids are definitely learning the Bible, learning biblical principles the entire week. We have a Scripture verse that is the theme for each day, and the kids are rewarded if they learn that."
Taylor said he hopes the children who attend Faith Kids Camp will return for other church activities.
"We want to encourage the kids who come to camp or do vacation Bible school to stay on in the fall and be active in our Wednesday night children's programs and, if they're in middle school, that they would join the youth group," he said.
Pat Wolfarth, director of children and education at First United Methodist Church in Spring Hill, said her church's camp also offers a mix of fun, education and Bible teaching.
"All of our activities are Christ-centered," she said. "The books that we make, the songs that they sing, the crafts that they do, are all pretty spiritual."
The camp runs weekdays through Aug. 15. Each week, there is a different theme.
"Next week is Creation Week, and we have a week where we do a complete Thanksgiving dinner, where the emphasis is to be thankful to God," Wolfarth said.
Other weeks will include Christmas in July, where the children will decorate a tree, and Festival Week, where everyone will dress up with clown costumes and have their faces painted. During the week of July 14, the children will attend the church's vacation Bible school program.
Each week there is a Pizza Day and a Water Day.
There are also days when the children will visit the library to participate in programs there, have opportunities to go swimming and have visitors who share and demonstrate items of interest, like homing pigeons and artificial limbs.
"The children are learning puppetry this year, and they're just loving it," Wolfarth said. "It's definitely not a baby-sitting service. It's a camp."
Like Taylor, Wolfarth wants parents to know her camp is safe.
"We have 10 paid staff that are there all the time, and I have about four volunteers," she said. "Then I have one person always at the front desk, and we keep the doors locked. We really protect our children. My goal is to have a safe, fun place for the children to be in the summer for moms that have to work."
Wolfarth says she and her staff love children, so for them summer camp is a ministry they enjoy. She is pleased when the children are happy.
"I got some of the nicest letters last year at the end of the summer," she said. "The one I remember especially said, 'You have given my children a safe haven over the summer when I couldn't be with them, and they can't wait to come back next year.' Those are the things that really make it worthwhile."