Waterloo, South Carolina – Children’s voices and occasional pick-up soccer games have become the norm along the shores of Lake Greenwood as Camp Fellowship in Waterloo has become the new temporary home for the Imani Milele Children’s Choir of Uganda.
The traveling choir, which raises funds for
its Uganda-based program with its performances, had planned to spend two nights at Camp Fellowship after two slated, but cancelled performances last Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at Chestnut Ridge Baptist and First Presbterian churches in Laurens. While spending the two days in Waterloo they received word of the sudden cancellation of the entire spring tour, which had included events as far away as Pennsylvania and Wyoming, due to the threat of the novel coronavirus.
With nowhere to perform and no path home, the children’s choir landed at Camp Fellowship, and camp Director Kevin Cartee said the children, who find themselves so far from home, will be there as long as necessary.
“They ordinarily have these performances in churches and will do homestays or stay in churches, then collect love offerings to help fund their organization, and they would be fed by the churches with families packing lunches for their next trip,” said Cartee. “So their budget doesn’t include lodging and food.”
At the same time, the Conference Center depends on a busy spring and incoming registrations for summer camps for its own budgetary needs, but all the planned events through spring have been cancelled. For Cartee and the board of directors, however, there was no question about letting the group stay as long as they need to during this unsafe time.
Cartee said the children understand the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, and their days are structured with school and other activities under the choir’s leadership.
He said, the reaction of he and his staff and the board is a scriptural one in caring for “the least of these.”
“We are not doing this for a reward but we would have to be very blind to not see this as an opportunity that the Lord has put before us,” Cartee said, “so as long as we can provide a healthy and safe place we will do that.”
The choir is made up of 21 children from older elementary to middle school, and 16 adults who include teachers, a nurse and directors.
Cartee said even the camp staff are keeping their distance, but he sees them around the campgrouds.
“One was yelling at me, ‘Mr. Kevin we thank you! We love it here!’” Cartee said. “If this had happneded in another place, I can’t imagine where they’d have to be housed. We were told it would probably be a church gymnasium and there’s no question for the time being this is ideal.
“Right now they are doing a voluntary shelter in place, so we are having to be strict with no visitors,” he said. “They will stay at least until April 8, and then their leadership in Florida and in Uganda will reassess.”
Anyone who would like to assist Camp Fellowship in helping the children’s choir can send a check to Camp Fellowship, 457 Camp Fellowship Road, Waterloo, S.C., 29384, or gifts can be offered online at the Camp Fellowship website.
Camp Fellowship is a non-profit ministry connected with Camping Ministries of the Carolinas. The website is www.campfellowhip.org.