- Featured, Letter from Executive Director

Kicking COVID Day 19: Cyber Camp

-Kennedy, age 8

UPdate Summary

  • Cyber Camps launched!
  • Cyber Corp Volunteers keep staff from loneliness!
  • UPS (pre-K-6) completes 3rd successful week Cyber School; UPA (8-12) completes week 2. Attendance, success, and progress excellent
  • UP running all programs full tilt, no furloughs, pursuing PPP loan through CARE legislation
  • Many biscuits made, weight gained!

Dear Friend,

You’ve heard about the tremendous success of our schools’ transition to Cyber Schools. But our After School Programs (ASP) are a very big part of the heart of UrbanPromise, what about them? Butt kicking COVID! James Russell has served at UrbanPromise 17 years, and oversees Children’s Programming, including ASP. I’m a conduit, UrbanPromise is a community. I’d like you to hear the voices of the community, including yours. This coming week we will launch Cyber StreetLeaders (that just sounds cool; was that the title of a movie?:) Can’t wait to tell you about the return of our teens. I also want to share some great notes I’ve gotten from you – testimonials from Cyber Corps and donors.

It’s not hard to encourage you about what the entire UrbanPromise Team – staff, families, volunteers, and donors – is accomplishing, because the facts speaks for themselves. There is love, power, and promise in what is being achieved. They are not words or tongue but actions and truth. We will encounter challenges in the coming weeks never encountered in our lifetime. When we encounter those challenges, remember that these encouraging words flow from the love we have for one another and the actions that give it life. If we can help, reach out. If you can help, we’ll reach out.

Enjoy James’ letter below. COVID Butt Kicking continues in force! At any given time, COVID is tougher than any of us, but it is never tougher than all of us, and that’s how we’ll kick COVID.

Thank you and be healthy! 
Rob

Working on fractions at Cyber Camp Promise!

James Russell shares about Cyber Camp:

While facing the opportunity before us during the COVID crisis I’ve had so many mixed feelings. Sometimes I worry about by 83 year old mum (yes, that is the correct spelling) living on the other side of the world in the UK. But mostly, I feel grateful to God for all he has provided over many years, especially my wife, Vanessa. She’s upstairs now in her makeshift classroom teaching Spanish in the new UPA Cyber School. (Mi esposa es una profesora buena y muy bonita también!)
 
It’s been a struggle setting up the new school rhythms. I’m an eye witness to the time and effort it’s taken to go from a school building to a cyber-school. Vanessa spent hours on Zoom, getting a crick in her neck, planning classes, learning google classroom and then relearning it once she forgot. Not to mention the time she planned a test and afterwards realized that google automatically translated it from Spanish to English! It’s frustrating trying to become an overnight expert in a new area.
 
We have faced similar challenges with our six After School Programs. Can we still help academically? Can we still have Bible lessons? What about emotional support? How do we maintain relationships with volunteers? More than one child has asked our Camp Directors, “When are we coming back to Camp?”
 
Well, I’m pleased to say that we just finished our first week of Cyber Camps! As a pilot, we tried a little of everything. We’re not making it complicated. We’ve taken what our normal after school program would have – games, Bible lessons, homework help and lots of mentoring from staff and teens – and made it cyber. Regular Camp does homework, Cyber Camp does “homework’. Regular Camp plays  ‘Who’s Got It’ (the leader shouts out an item and the children retrieve it first to win), Cyber Camp plays it.  Instead of running all over camp, they ran all over their houses to be first to bring the item in front of the camera. Cyber Who’s Got It was a hit! Even parents joined in showing Cyber Camp can do some new tricks old Camp can’t.
 
During Bible at Camp Victory, led by Director Josh Gregor, one of our volunteers mentioned that God is with us and comforts us.  Byron, a 4th grader, said “I know lots of people have anxiety about the coronavirus, but I don’t know what to tell them”. Byron’s question opened our hearts. This is my favorite thing to happen in any Bible study, questions about God that have implications for the real world. We concluded that, with Christ, Byron has the power to tell others about Jesus and how He can comfort them right now. Josh noted the blessing of having a cyber volunteer in Cyber Camp with him:
 
“Ms. Kathy cyber-volunteered twice this week. In these times it’s easy to feel alone, but her presence with the kids reminded me that God is in our midst, and His purposes are being fulfilled”.
 
At afterschool program we share life. Cyber Camp is kicking COVID butt! The children let us know that they’re glad to be back together (even on a 2 by 2 inch square). “I miss seeing you, but this is fun too.”  My staff are as encouraged as the children. Stay tuned for the return of our StreetLeaders!
 
I love that the UrbanPromise community is so large. It’s hard to feel lonely when the body of Christ is reaching out and grabbing a hand (virtually, of course!). Togetherness looks like action and you all have modeled this beautifully during an uncertain time with both your words and actions. Thank you so much!
 
While reading Rob’s letters I have been encouraged to live a faith-filled life more during this time and not less. In 1 and 2 Timothy, Paul, while on house arrest, challenges disciples whom he desperately needs to step up their game. Themes like power, oneness in Christ, truth and perseverance come to mind. You and I are Paul and Timothy at the same time, being encouraged and encouraging one another, in such a time as this, to show the power of Christ.
 
Thank you and let’s continue to imitate Christ and show His power.
James Russell

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