God commands us to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to have compassion on the poor. At Campus Clubs, we are seeking God’s wisdom and guidance as we primarily reach out to the “at risk” children of the Pleasant Hill Community in Macon, Georgia, with the goal of “loving kids and families into the Kingdom.”
Presently, we are concentrating on educational and spiritual development in over 170 kids while also ministering to the families connected to these kids. On a typical day the children are picked up from school, supplied a nutritious snack, assisted with homework, provided with tutoring, taught the Bible, engaged in physical education, and encouraged through love and discipline. We are also reaching out to the parents with Goodwill Job Connections located on our premises. They assist with resume building, interview techniques, and job placement.
Our ministry is not limited to the classroom, as our staff is often invited by children and parents to school programs, to read or speak to their classes, judge programs, and even visit them at home. We also partner with schools to help assess student progress and discuss educational remediation plans. Our daily interaction with the children and parents builds a climate of trust and respect, opening the doors to impact the spiritual and educational life of the children.
1996: Campus Club is founded
Campus Clubs began in the fall of 1996 as a ministry of First Presbyterian Church. The students met at the church and the staff also had office space there. The Club began as an urban youth ministry with the ultimate goal of winning young people to Christ and demonstrating to inner-city kids that there were people other than their parents and teachers who cared about them.
Daniel LaDow, Jack Kelly, and Justine Hogan went to Central High School to begin meeting students and forming relationships. At their first meeting only 3 boys attended. By October 29, 1996 there were 19 Central High School students meeting – the numbers grew rapidly.
1997: Urban intern is hired and more structure is introduced
In 1997 the realization of the importance of providing structured and well supervised activities to enrich the lives of youth, spiritually, physically, educationally, and socially was made clear. Shirlynn Kelly was hired as Urban Intern – the number of students involved was limited and a more formal schedule was established. Forty-three students attended this year.
1998 – 2001: First retreat and banquet
In 1998 Campus Clubs was incorporated and became a 501c3, Campus Clubs Inc. There were approximately 25 students from middle school and 45 from high school attending. Also, Campus Clubs’ first leadership retreat was held.
In 1999 the first summer tutorial program was held with the theme Passing the Georgia High School Graduation Test. Campus Clubs also held its first fundraising banquet. James Moore was hired as Campus Clubs’ first official Executive Director.
2002 – 2004: Formed partnership with third school and new programs are established
In May of 2002, Campus Clubs entered its 3rd school and first elementary school, Union Elementary. James Moore began leading a mentoring program for young men and new clubs were established within Campus Clubs and a slogan was established, Loving Kids Into the Kingdom and Equipping Them for Christ.
In 2003, Prayer On The Steps (P.O.T.S.) was designed and promoted for young men age 6-18, but the vision was expanded in 2004 to see all young people (ages 6-18) from Macon/Bibb County praying on the steps of City Hall.
2005 – 2008: New job pilot program is started
In 2005, Campus Clubs began a Job Club pilot program with 15 African American youth enrolled in a 7 week summer program. This was a work readiness program to teach inner city youth the value of and the reward to be gained from gainful employment so that they may grow into productive citizens in our community. Classroom instruction and various work place environments were provided. Students were paid a weekly stipend, one half of which was placed into a savings account redeemable upon their high school graduation.
In 2008, Tony Lowden was hired as Executive Director and the program was expanded to 4 days, Monday-Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m. Club meetings were held on Tuesday and Thursday nights, a summer tutorial program ran Monday-Thursday from 9-4, and the Benjamin Hawkins Learning Center opened for all students to learn basic computer operation, technology communications, and hands on activities.
2009 – 2012: Growth and introduction of new programs
During 2009 and 2010 the program was expanded to include elementary students and approximately 100 kids were picked up from 32 different schools around the community. A second location was added at Strong Tower Fellowship Church for the middle and high school students. The elementary students continued to meet at First Presbyterian Church.
Robin Crosby was hired in September of 2010. The Board made the decision to move the Campus Clubs ministry to the Pleasant Hill community and to lease the CE building from Strong Tower Fellowship.
By December of 2010, 60 students were now attending. The 2011-2012 after-school program began with 93 students enrolled and a waiting list!
Exciting Updates from 2013
At Camp Grace this summer, 28 of our Campus Club kids prayed to receive Christ! 130 students participated in our seven week Summer Academic Camp where they were given instruction in English, Math, Science, and History. Our sweet kindergarten class on average improved 29.5% in all 4 subjects:
• English: average improvement of 36.9%
• Math: average improvement of 34.1%
• Science: average improvement of 37.1%
• Social Studies: average improvement of 9.9%
Exciting Updates from 2014
This summer, 96 students attended Camp Grace, a week-long Christian camp, and 17 students became believers. The 2014-2015 After-School Program has 128 students enrolled and 80% of those live in Pleasant Hill. With a 27% jump over two years, they are very close to being on grade level!