New Wine kicks off camp with some Saintly help

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 22, 2010



LAPLACE – Leaders at New Wine Christian Fellowship in LaPlace enlisted the help of a famous Saint to kick off the church’s seventh annual summer camp.

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston spoke before a crowd of government officials and parish business leaders during a lunchtime gathering at the church to generate support for Kids On The Move, a church-sponsored effort to keep kids active and off the streets during the summer months.

“I think we all know that children with too much idle time can eventually pose a problem,” said New Wine Pastor Neil Bernard. “Our camp gives the youth of our parish a place to have fun and build character.”

Bernard said the camp, which regularly attracts about 200 participants and 25 counselors parishwide, specifically focuses on children from single parent homes or families with one parent incarcerated. He said the camp is an effort to keep these kids from falling through the cracks.

“Children, especially boys, who grow up with one parent absent are more likely to end up in jail themselves,” Bernard said. “Sometimes you aren’t dealt the best hand, and this camp and its counselors do everything possible to help these kids through.”

Camp Director Karina Portillo, who has been with Kids On The Move since its inception explained that the camp has continued to grow with age. She said the expanded youth center and classroom space that the church acquired in 2008 has given the camp even more options.

“The camp has certainly lived up to its name,” Portillo said. “We are always on the move doing great things for our kids and great things for our community.”

Portillo said something that always surprised her about the camp was that the children really seem to embrace the character building opportunities offered through the program.

“We have found that sitting down and talking to these children about their struggles and their life is what they enjoy most of all,” Portillo said. “That says a lot for what a little mentoring can do.”

In a short speech to the business leaders assembled, Colston himself stressed the importance of mentoring young kids. He explained it was something he watched his father do for many years before he passed away in 1997 when Colton was just 15.

“I saw what he would do day in and day out with the kids he fostered,” Colston said. “Young children are a valuable asset, and they need all the help they can get now more than ever.”

Bernard said the camp, which opens June 7, will have a registration event Saturday at the church from 10 a.m. to noon. For more information call the church office at 985-653-0008.