fcwc sidewalk club 2021

An Inside Look at Flower City Work Camp

July 8, 2021

For thirty-five years, Browncroft has been hosting Flower City Work Camp (FCWC), an annual one-week service project that takes students and leaders off campus and into the city of Rochester to serve its residents, young and old. Each year, the city is blessed as teams help with home improvement projects and neighborhood camps, and those serving are blessed abundantly in return!

I have attended Browncroft my whole life and had the pleasure of participating in Sidewalk Club– the FCWC track that holds outdoor Vacation Bible Schools for inner city children– during my sophomore, junior, and senior years of high school. It was always wonderful to watch kids of all ages peek curiously out their windows at us and come outside (often in the pouring rain) to see what was going on in the nearby lot. They joyfully ran around playing games, enthusiastically worked on crafts, and listened intently as we acted out Bible stories and shared the Gospel with them.  

Now as Browncroft’s communications intern, I had the chance last week to speak with a few Sidewalk Club students and leaders to see how their experiences compared to mine and to relive some of my Flower City memories.

One student I spoke with was Anna. Anna is a senior who served as a student shepherd for her Sidewalk Club this year. This leadership role is available to juniors and seniors who exemplify a strong faith in Christ and want to lead their team in devotional times and prayer. Anna has participated in FCWC since she was in seventh grade and was disappointed last year when it was canceled due to the pandemic. She was excited to return this year and act as a role-model for the other students. She was especially looking forward to spending time with the children who visited her Sidewalk Club.

“I just love forming bonds with the kids,” Anna says.                                                                

As a former Sidewalk Club member myself, I agree that playing with and teaching the children is probably the most rewarding aspect of the FCWC experience. Anna is grateful for the opportunity to travel outside the church environment and share the Gospel with people who may never have heard it before.

Anna’s Sidewalk Club playing a game with the children.

Ayden and Eli are good friends who met through Eli’s brother during a previous FCWC. They just graduated high school and couldn’t have been happier to serve on the same Sidewalk Club their final year as students. Ayden’s favorite thing about FCWC is just having fun with new friends.

“The friendships I’ve made at Flower City are some of the best I’ve had,” he says.

Both Ayden and Eli love evening worship sessions and seeing God work throughout the week. “I’ve definitely seen God move in my life and others’ lives while I’ve been here,” Eli explains.

Another boy on Ayden and Eli’s team was Caleb. Caleb is a rising sophomore who loves meeting new people at Flower City and making memories with them. His favorite parts of the week are free time and playing games because they allow him to bond with new friends and reconnect with old ones. Although Ayden, Eli, and Caleb had a fairly small number of kids come to their Sidewalk Club, they feel blessed to have been able to pour into those children while spending time with each other. Speaking from my own experience, it really is amazing how close you become with your team after a few short days. And I couldn’t agree more that it is a great joy to tell even one child about Jesus’ love.

Like myself, Alex Welker is a college student interning here at Browncroft. She has participated in FCWC in the past and was thrilled to help out on Sidewalk Club E last week. In her new role, she saw just how much effort our volunteer leaders put into making Flower City a success.

“I’m really starting to appreciate the leaders more,” she tells me. “They just do so much.”

It’s true that when you’re a student you don’t realize how much goes on behind the scenes. As interns, Alex and I have witnessed Browncroft’s staff planning and organizing FCWC for weeks. It certainly requires dedication and isn’t something that can be thrown together in one day, especially in the midst of COVID. Our leaders had to get creative by administering morning temperature checks and eliminating the overnight portion of camp. During the day, our food crew cooked tirelessly for an army of people, nurses tended to any minor injuries, and FCWC coordinators hung out on site keeping things in order and answering any questions that students had.

No one knows more about the amount of work that goes into Flower City than Josh Eisenhart. Over the past seventeen years, Josh has led in the planning and programming of FCWC. He also serves on the board of Flower City Outreach, the organization over FCWC. For Josh, the most rewarding part of leading is that he gets to see firsthand the impact that Flower City has on students.

“Every year, I see college applications from students that specifically mention FCWC as a turning point in their life and in their faith! I love seeing the power of the Church as it comes together to do this amazing ministry!” he says.

Free from the distractions of phones, school, and other routine things, students open their hearts to hear God speak, and, in turn, they speak about Him to those who have never heard His message. The stories that both students and city residents come away with after Flower City are truly remarkable. Just imagine what miracles could transpire if we were so open to hearing God’s voice and sharing His love year-round.

If you are interested in learning more about Browncroft’s partnership with Flower City Outreach and other ministries serving our community, please visit our Browncroft Cares website below!

About The Author

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