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TR PHOTO BY SAM STUVE Marshalltown’s First United Methodist Church, 202 W Main St., is scheduled to host its very first Camp E in the weeks of July 19-23 and July 26-30, as well as August 2. 6. They will have four days at church which consist of STEM, art, baking, and music, while Friday will be an off-campus day.

Marshalltown’s First United Methodist Church, 202 W. Main St., has something new for kids from grades one to six this summer – Camp E.

Camp E is offered for three different weeks – July 19 to July 23, July 23 to July 26, August 2 to 6.

The camp was hosted by interns who are college students in Iowa – Seth Diser, a business student at Grand View University in Des Moines; and Zoe Heemstra, a business student at Northwestern College in Orange City.

Diser said the First United Methodist is his home church, which he grew up in the congregation, and sees Camp E as an opportunity to give back.

“This is my home church, so it’s really exciting to be able to give back to an organization that has done so much for me” Diser said.

According to Diser, the idea for the camp came from members of the congregation, how the church could give back to the congregation what is more than just a holiday bible school for children.

Enter Camp E, which is free to register and will consist of four types of activities:

• Art

• Pastry

• Music


Diser said that initially the camp was going to consist of music and art, but eventually added bakery and STEM because of the talent they were able to find and bring to the camp.

“It’s what talent we could find that could help and we could serve the most children that way,” Diser said. “So it slowly morphed into offering four different things over three weeks. “

Each type of activity will have a project behind it which includes certain activities and are “Led by experts”.



• marble track

• Magic trick

• Experiences

• Lego

• Construction activities


• Musical clip

• Singing

• Instruments

• Dancing

• Percussion


• Open a bakery

• Treat

• Takeaway recipes

• cake decoration


• Painting a mural

• Painting

• Pottery

• Jewelry

• Decor

Each activity will be taught in 90 minute sessions, with two sessions taught Monday through Thursday of each camp week. The aim of the camps is to “Engage, excite, enrich and express”, through denominational activities, but without imposing religion on the participants.

“We’re trying not to make it a VBS camp, so it’s not just bible, small groups and all that, it’s more activity-based.” Heemstra said.

She said there will be times in the middle of the day that are intended for children to decompress and serve as a break.

“This is where we’ll have books that talk about the fruits of the spirit we go through, times of journaling and prayer. “ Heemstra said.

Camp E will take place Monday through Thursday of each week but will be “off campus” on Fridays. Off-campus Friday days will include three trips to Marshalltown.

Diser said on July 23 that family passes for the pool will be distributed. This way the children can go with the volunteers or as a family. On July 30, there will be a pizza party at Wayward Social, and finally, on August 6, the activity will be geocaching at Grimes Farm.

Planning for the camp came relatively recently, according to Heemstra.

“We’ve been working on this since June, there’s been a lot of planning, brainstorming and thinking. “ Heemstra said. “We worked on it all day, every day. So we’re really excited to start and give back to the kids. “

A closing event is planned for the end of the camp, which is “The incredible chemistry show” hosted by John Derhart of West Des Moines at 6:30 p.m. August 8 in the Impala Ballroom. Along with the show, local churches can enter and set up stands.

“We’re trying to help kids connect to a church somewhere because the leaders here certainly don’t want to go out and steal kids from other congregations.” Heemstra said. “We just want to have a place to go. “

She said the support from the church was very strong. There was an initial struggle to get volunteers, but this was short-lived once new information on volunteer roles was detailed.

“I feel like from the start everyone was really excited about this”, Heemstra said. “People would come to us and ask us, ‘What can I do? Is there anything I can help? ‘ and so it’s really cool.

The support and interest in the camp can be seen in what Diser said they have from the number of children who have signed up for the camp.

“We’re about 95 kids right now in total for the three weeks,” Diser said.

The camp had a goal of 80 participants per week. Registration for camp or volunteering can be done through the church website.


Contact Sam Stuve at 641-753-6611 or at [email protected]

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