MUSCATINE, Iowa–Though COVID-19 has reshaped the summer for the Salvation Army of Muscatine County, leading them to cancel their day camp for the first time in many years, it has not stopped them from making a positive impact. At the end of their vacation bible school week (a shorter outreach program for a smaller number of children who were each given daily temperature checks and appropriate personal protective equipment) they helped local kids have fun and deal with the stress of the last several months with a color battle July 3.
While working with Jeff Westheim, a youth pastor at Faith Alive church in West Branch, Michigan, Greg and Liz Bock learned about color battles. Intrigued, they worked with Westheim to organize one in conjunction with the summer programming they oversaw in Flint, Michigan. Greg Bock would never forget the joy of the kids who participated. “It was my first experience doing it, and the kids from the day camp and those just in the park that day absolutely loved it,” he recalled.
When Westheim brought a small group of youth on a mission trip to help with this year’s vacation bible school, Bock decided the time had come to bring a color battle to Muscatine. Unlike events done in the city previously, Bock described the battle as: “A series of fun games and obstacle courses, then a big battle at the end. There is a ton of chalk, watered down kindergarten type paint that you can use in the water canons, and also paint on trays around the ‘battlefield.’ It’s a way to be active and get to be messy with paint.”
Bock found the color battle a huge hit. “I loved the fact that we were able to do this, and that kids were able to just be themselves for once in the midst of a COVID crazy world,” said Bock. He also appreciated that the Salvation Army once again got to serve as a local hub. “I loved the fact that we were able to be a “Corps Community Center” again for the first time in about 13 weeks, and kids found The Salvation Army to be a safe place where they were cared for with proper precautions, fed dinner, and able to release 13 weeks of confinement,” he added. Should it prove safe, Bock hopes to open the Salvation Army to more of the community for an even larger color battle soon.