Teen thrives on ministry to kids - Catholic Courier

Teen thrives on ministry to kids

When David Sloand agreed to volunteer with his mother, Mary Ann, at a
camp for children affected by AIDS and HIV, he didn’t know much about
the camp or the cause it served.

What he did know was his love for working with kids. So it didn’t
take David long to feel right at home — to the point that he ended up
doubling his original commitment time.

“I went into it nonchalant, and it just blossomed,” recalled David,
18. “I was only supposed to stay for half a week but ended up staying
the whole week.”

David worked with boys ages 6-8 last summer at Camp SOAR, held
annually for children infected by HIV or AIDS or who have family
members infected. Sponsored by diocesan Catholic Charities, Camp SOAR
takes place at Camp Koinonia in Yates County.

David assisted with such fun activities as arts and crafts, nature
hikes, ball games and bingo. He said there was no discussion of AIDS or
HIV — rather, the camp served as a break from the ravages of the
epidemic for which there is no known cure.

Although he had an uncle who died of AIDS in 1995, David said he was
too young to grasp the deeper realities of the epidemic. After the Camp
SOAR experience, though, he got a better feel for what it’s like to
live with AIDS. Thus, he paid closer attention when the annual World
AIDS Day was observed this past Dec. 1.

“It’s real people, so you get to put a face on it,” he said of Camp
SOAR.

David has logged several other service efforts involving children.
Just months before the camp, he finished off a successful effort to
repair and give away more than 20 bicycles to young city residents. He
worked on the project during the 2002-03 school year, enlisting several
of his friends from McQuaid Jesuit High School for assistance. The
bikes were presented during a special ceremony in the spring to
students at Rochester City School No. 36.

“Some of them were very eager to jump right on the bikes,” David
recalled.

The bicycle initiative served as David’s Eagle Scout project. He’s a
member of Boy Scout Troop 209 in Fairport and received his Eagle honor
this past fall.

In addition, David has an ongoing commitment with kids in his
parish, Fairport’s Church of the Resurrection. He teaches the
Children’s Liturgy of the Word once per month, often getting help from
his sister Meaghan, 13, in acting out the Sunday readings.

David said that employing WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) is an effective
teaching tool for his young students, who are in kindergarten through
third grade.

“I relate (the readings) into real life. It’s real easy when I do
that and ask them what they would do,” he said.

Much of David’s focus on kids stems from his awareness of being a
positive role model. “(Young children are) developing, and you’re
helping them with developing,” he explained. “An older kid can really
have an effect on their lives.”

David earned the diocesan Hands of Christ Award for outstanding
service this past fall. A senior at McQuaid, he is also an avid gymnast
and is looking at Miami of Ohio, Holy Cross or Fairfield for
college.

Though he’s not yet sure of his major, he didn’t rule out the
possibility of a career involving children. But first, he admitted, he
has to blend a bit of tough love into his passion for helping
youngsters.

“One of the things I learned at Camp SOAR is that I’m a big
pushover,” he said with a smile. “I have trouble punishing kids.”

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