In early July, Alivia and Yvonne Adkins set out to realize Alivia’s dream of starting a nonprofit for young women. Two weeks later, Little Gems Christian Day Camp opened its doors to no less than 21 young ladies. Their mission? – “To teach young girls to love God, to value themselves, and to aim high.”
Neither Alivia nor her mother ever imagined the success their efforts would bring!
We sat down with Alivia, Yvonne, and Denise Allen, the social media specialist for Little Gems, and discussed the camp’s inception and its unexpected, but much-welcomed success.
QUESTION: How did Little Gems Christian Day Camp get started?
ALIVIA: Well, I feel that God has given me a vision to work with young women and help them learn to value themselves and know who they are in Christ. When a young woman knows her self-worth and knows who she is in Christ, she can live a healthy lifestyle, make wise decisions, and avoid so many negative things that plague our youth today. I thought it would be perfect to start off with younger girls because they are at such an impressionable age.
YVONNE: Alivia has had this on her heart for years, and even though we are new to the Charleston area, she’s been doing lots of outreach with groups such as Dream Girls Organization, Chicktime Charleston, and Seacoast Church. So, I knew that God was really doing something special with her. We decided to hold a week-long camp, doing something different everyday with the girls and ending with a Little Miss Gems Pageant. We asked my cousin, Denise Allen, to assist us because she loves to do outreach and she previously worked with middle schoolers.
QUESTION: What was camp was like?
YVONNE: The week was just full of activities from beginning to end! Camp was held from Monday to Thursday in a large activity room at St. Stephen Library in Berkeley County. We did scripture study every day with Bibles donated from Lifeway Christian Store. Molly Mobley of Point North Church in Monck’s Corner held a tea party and etiquette workshop. The girls like to step, so we did a little step routine. We had a hair styling contest, held a hygiene workshop, had a gem hunt, played games, had contests, and did arts and crafts! We finished the week with a wonderful pageant, which we held on Friday at Canaan Pentecostal Church on Russellville Road.
ALIVIA: For the pageant, the girls were judged on Bible memorization, vision board criteria, and answers to questions based on their scripture readings. We crowned a Little Miss Gem, and they all received a certificate and a title (such as “Miss Patient,” “Miss Peaceful,” etc.) based on the “Fruits of the Spirit” spoken of in the Bible. We ended camp with the Pageant because we wanted to instill confidence and poise in the girls. When you have confidence, it exudes and can change your whole life – the people you attract, the decisions you make, the life you live!
QUESTION: How did you fund the camp?
ALIVIA: St. Stephen Library allowed us to use their activity room for free, Lifeway Christian Store donated free Bibles to all the participants, and Errica Gadson of Berkeley County completely agreed to bring in free lunch for the girls every day. Mount Pisgah Pentecostal Holiness Church donated school supplies, and there were donations for the hygiene bags. There were other expenses for which we came out of pocket.
QUESTION: What does the future hold for Little Gems Christian Day Camp?
ALIVIA: This is really just the beginning. Because we put the camp together in just two weeks and didn’t have a lot of time to advertise, we had supposed that, maybe, we would have about five to six girls. Well, we not only ended up with 21 girls, we had parents and grandparents wishing they had signed their girls up and asking what the plan is for next year. We are already looking for a larger venue for next year, and though we are grateful that we had the ability to come out-of-pocket for many of our needs, we hope to build more sponsorship and garner more support from businesses and the community.
Our ultimate vision is for this to become a character development program for girls. We plan to continue the Little Gems week-long day camp for girls ages 8-10, but we are also planning a Star Gems weekend for girls ages 11-13 and a Teen Gems lock-in. Like beautiful gems, women are rare, valuable, and precious treasures, and we want to instill that knowledge in them as early as we can.