Bounce around the block

June 05, 2005|by ADAM BEHSUDI

HAGERSTOWN - Josh Seville stood next to a bounce house quaking with children. In his hands, he held a balloon sculpture of a dog on a leash.

He said the hard part of his job was preventing the children from bouncing into each other as he kept a watchful eye on the traffic in and out of the inflatable structure.

The bounce house was just one of the activities for area youngsters Saturday at the Hagerstown Rescue Mission's Wildside Kids and Extreme Impact Teen Ministries' block party.


Chris Shank, director of Wildside Kids, a youth ministry program operated by the rescue mission, said the goal of the block party was to kick off the summer for the ministries and to get parents and children involved in safe and wholesome activities.

The event was free and open to anyone. It featured fun and games on the street, free food for children, a basketball tournament for teenagers and other activities.

Rebecca Deike, a volunteer for Extreme Impact Teen Ministries, said she had been working on organizing the event for about four months with a group of volunteers.

"We're just here showing that we have this cool program," said Deike, 17, about the teen ministry.

Deike said there were about 30 volunteers working at Saturday's event.

Wildside Kids and Extreme Impact Teen Ministries run programs throughout the year. Teens can participate in weekly group meetings and younger children are invited to attend one of the monthly parties that are held. Shank said the activities are geared toward keeping youngsters out of trouble by providing safe alternatives for fun.

Karen Dixon's grandson, Shawn, attended Conoco Camp last year. The camp is a free, three-week summer camp program for younger children operated by Wildside Kids. Dixon, of Sharpsburg, said she is sending Shawn back this summer.

"He can't wait to go," she said as Shawn nodded his head in agreement while eating a snowball. Dixon was impressed by the block party and said it was a positive activity.

Robin Kelley, of Fairplay, was attending the block party with her daughter, Jessica, and two grandchildren.

"It keeps the kids off the street and out of trouble," Kelley said. She said she signed up her grandchildren for the Wildside Kids' summer camp program.

Children and teenagers scurried from one activity to another while families sat on the grass enjoying the food.

Seville, the volunteer at the bounce house, said he was looking for a way to share his faith with area youth as a student at Antietam Bible College. He has been volunteering with Extreme Impact Teen Ministries for four months. Volunteers roamed the area wearing red T-shirts with a biblical passage printed on the back.

Deike has been with the teen ministry program for three years, since the beginning, she said. As the lead coordinator for the block party, her walkie-talkie constantly was beeping. She said she wants to stay involved with the ministry even though she is going to college outside the area after the summer.

"This is my life," she said. "This is what I live to do."

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