For the fourth summer in a row, campers at Louisiana’s MedCamps will turn back the clocks with “Sundaes on Mondays” through the camp’s partnership with House of Raeford Farms FLOCK in Arcadia.
Once a month in June, July, and August, House of Raeford’s FLOCK sponsors various themed dinners at MedCamps of Louisiana, which is an organization that provides week-long overnight and day camps for children with disabilities similar to their own. From Italian nights to fish fries, House of Raeford employees raise a spatula and volunteer both their time and cooking skills to bring smiles to the campers’ faces. But no matter the dinner, the meal always concludes with a cherry on top and a camp favorite: “Sundaes on Mondays.”
At MedCamps of Louisiana, all campers have one thing in common — a similar mental or physical disability. On the campgrounds, everyone is viewed as equal, and all differences fall by the wayside. MedCamps of Louisiana provides a sanctuary in a traditional camp setting for the kids to simply be kids and enjoy the experience.
Mitzi Gaddy, quality assurance manager at House of Raeford Arcadia and FLOCK volunteer, recounted the spirit that is alive at MedCamps of Louisiana:
“You can see the joy. You can see it in the kids, in their smiles and how everyone treats each other the same, void of judgement,” Gaddy said. “That’s what makes this place such a worthwhile and rewarding cause for us to volunteer.”
House of Raeford’s partnership with Louisiana’s MedCamps began in 2014 and has since grown into the type of relationship that epitomizes FLOCK’s mission. This relationship is much more than a one-time donation. House of Raeford seeks to provide assistance wherever the camp may need, whether it be sponsoring and decorating a cabin at the camp’s annual Fall Bash Carnival, volunteering, or sponsoring various dinners.
“FLOCK has become one of those partner organizations that we rely on,” said Caleb Seney, executive director for MedCamps of Louisiana. “If we have a need, we can call and they will be there.”
Over the years, House of Raeford’s relationship with MedCamps of Louisiana has grown to resonate on a more personal level for several volunteers — particularly for Chaplain Thomas Edwards, who serves as chaplain for the House of Raeford Arcadia plant through Corporate Chaplains of America. Edwards’ daughter has attended one of Louisiana’s MedCamps for the past two years, and Edwards volunteers his time for various opportunities coordinated by House of Raeford at the camp.
Edwards’ reflection on his daughter’s experiences exemplifies the mission of MedCamps in its entirety: “It provides her with the opportunity to interact with children who are all facing similar challenges to the challenges she faces every day. The joy on her face is evident, and she is always ‘big smiles’ when we pick her up on the last day.”
As Gaddy noted, both FLOCK and MedCamps of Louisiana are founded on similar Christian beliefs of providing assistance to meet a need in their local community. This has provided a sound foundation for FLOCK’s partnership with MedCamps of Louisiana to continue to grow and it will be what further encourages the relationship to flourish in the years to come.