More than fifty kids, many of them Immanuel students, descended on Hamilton Park every morning during the last week of June for “Shining Stars,” a unique baseball/softball experience and 25 volunteers were prepared for them. The camp ran every morning Monday through Friday. The weather was near-perfect, and so was the fun. In its second year, “Shining Stars” is the brainchild of Pastor Warren, associate pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church and School. He wanted to create a camp where children could enjoy baseball and softball as they learn basic skills in a fun, creative, and Christian environment. Though the camp is open to children of all skill levels, it is specifically targeted toward children who have had limited or no organized baseball experience.
The first thing Pastor Warren, himself an experienced coach and former local baseball player, did was to assemble a team of “all stars” to help him lead the program:
- Tim Storm - Palatine Youth Baseball & Softball (PYB/S), Palatine Baseball Association (PBA), Palatine Travelers, Palatine Post-Season Coach for over 20 years, and a 2013 Recipient of Palatine Park District Honor Roll Award for Volunteering
- Kevin Nelson - Former Professional AAA Minor League catcher of the Toronto Blue Jays, Philadelphia Phillies, and New York Yankees
- Dennis Sander - Barrington High School Varsity Softball coach and coach of the Barrington American Legion Baseball team.
This year, former Major League Baseball player and Chicago Cub, Bill Campbell, also provided pitching instruction to 7 – 10 year old boys. Anne Dyer, one of the camper’s mom with softball experience helped in 2016 as well.
Pastor Warren felt it was important to incorporate coaching help from younger college and high school aged players from the area. “Having the children connect with teens and young adults is an important way to ensure that the children feel comfortable all week. It allows the kids to interact with someone they can look up too who is closer to their age and is currently playing the game,” said Pastor Warren. High School students from Palatine, Fremd, Barrington, Lake Zurich, and Dundee Crown were on hand to help coach the kids. The camp also had three college students throughout the week to lead activities, along with two middle school helpers assisting in drills. All four of Pastor Warren’s own children, who range from 17 -24 years old were among those helping, fulfilling a long standing vision he has for himself and his children as a way to give back to the community. Pastor Warren added, “We even had “snack moms” provide and prepare healthy snacks and Gatorade each day for our campers. This was truly a community effort.”
The centerpiece and differentiator of this camp over and above any other baseball / softball camp is sharing and helping kids grow in Christ Jesus. The camp begins and ends in prayer, and smack in the middle of the morning, the kids break for ‘Faith and Food’ time for about 40 minutes. Pastor Donald, Immanuel’s Director of Youth, not only coached, but also offered fun and easy to understand times of teaching for the children. He even dressed up in umpire gear and handed out packages of Topps baseball cards to each camper to keep or trade, while connecting these examples to a spiritual truth in Scripture.
The camp was sponsored by Thrivent Financial, through their Action Team Dollars program which promotes “Living Generously” in our communities. Additional monies were sponsored by Thrivent through their chapter initiatives. “We are grateful for Thrivent Financials’ generous partnership in supporting our efforts helping us to ‘Live Generously’ in the Palatine Community. Because of Thrivent’s support, which covered the food, beverages, baseball cards, and camp t-shirts, the camp was free to all participants,” Pastor Warren said.
Immanuel is also grateful for the support of the Palatine Park District and PYB/S, and PBA for the exclusive use of all the ball diamonds at Hamilton Park and for supplying equipment for the camp. When various communities come together for the sake of providing our children with something positive in our own Palatine community, we in fact become “Stronger Together” because of it,” said Pastor Warren. “Stronger Together” is the focal point of Immanuel Lutheran Church and School whose goal it is to” Build a Community in Christ” by partnering with other community groups to help Palatine flourish as community that works together making a positive difference in people’s lives.
Pastor Warren and his team felt truly blessed from the time they spent with the children in the camp, and can’t wait to see how this camp will grow in the future. They are already planning on how to build off of the experience over the first two annual camps. Plans for next year include running the camp again during the last week of June, from Monday June 26th – to Friday, June 30th. Early bird registration is available online at www.immanuelpalatine.org/baseball. Register now to ensure your child’s spot for next year!
Immanuel Lutheran Church, a fixture in the Palatine community for nearly 150 years, offers a variety of programs and services to the people of Palatine, as well as weekly worship services. For more information, please contact Pastor Warren Schilf at 847-259-1549 or PastorWarren@ilp.org