Former Sunbeam Continues Living Lessons Learned

Vicky Fields, Advisory Board Member, and Major Joe May, of The Salvation Army Kingsport, TN, enjoy helping their community.

As a Kingsport, TN, Advisory Board Member, Vicky Fields Sponsors Two for Camp

As a young girl, Vicky Fields adopted the Sunbeam motto of “Do Right.” In fact, it became a guiding force for her entire life. So, when Major Joe May of the The Salvation Army asked her to be an Advisory Board Member of the Kingsport, Tennessee, Division, saying “Yes” was easy and she happily recalled her years as a Sunbeam to him.

“When I was 5, 6, 7, those years, I was a Sunbeam in the early 1960’s. We went once a week to The Salvation Army to the facility that was hooked to the church. The facility is still standing in a part of Kingsport that is no longer a residential area. It was called Long Island. We lived on Jared Drive. I have three sisters, so we all went,” Fields explained as she reminisced about the area that is now primarily owned by the Eastman Chemical Company.

The Salvation Army Sunbeam program is for girls in grades 1-5 with the goal of helping them to become leaders through the development of positive social and communication habits, decision-making and life skills.

“We would go once a week. We would have a bible story, learn bible verses and sing songs. We had uniforms and I believe they were gray,” Fields said.

In the Christ–centered environment, girls are encouraged to develop their personal identity and character, based on Christian values and biblical principles.  These same principles are taught at The Salvation Army’s summer camp so when Major May asked her to participate at an Advisory Board meeting, she eagerly agreed.

The grey uniform for The Salvation Army’s Sunbeams was memorable to Vicky Fields. Image from vintagekidstuff.com

“I didn’t go to camp. I doubt they had a camp in the 60’s,” Fields said.  But that didn’t dim her enthusiasm as she agreed to sponsor two children for camp.

“It was so much fun shopping for the kids at camp. As I was shopping, I would think, ‘What would a girl like in the color of the sleeping bags? What would she like for shampoo? What would she like for all the necessities that she would need at camp? What color flip flops? I tried to imagine in my mind their age and what they would like,” Fields said.

As the mother of two daughters and grandmother to five, Fields, a banker by trade, has had a lot of practice in understanding children.

“I’ve been involved with youth since I was a teenager and it is just something I have a passion about. Any child that needs to be helped, I want the help. My daughters and grandchildren are blessings and that is why I choose to do what I did to sponsor the kids, in honor of them,” Fields said.

“The Salvation Army and the Sunbeams program were formative things in my childhood. It was something we looked forward to once a week. In the Sunbeams, we learned what my father and mother were also teaching us about the Bible and teaching us about Jesus and teaching us about God. We learned the bible stories that are so important and about having a relationship with our heavenly Father.  My father taught us that our heavenly Father takes care of us, no matter what. That is very important in my life and that was instilled in me at home and at the Sunbeams that we may be forsaken by everybody, but we do have a heavenly Father and He is always there no matter what. Life brings hard things and things in your life that you might make you feel alone but I have never felt that because of what I learned in the young formative years of my life, in my family and in that program,” Fields said.

Early Sunbeam badges encouraged girls to learn knowledge and skills. Image from vintagekidstuff.com.

The summer camp programs of The Salvation Army instill the same values learned in the Sunbeams program which fits between the Moonbeam program and the Girl Guard programs. Moonbeams are co-ed pre-k and kindergarten, and Girl Guards are older girls. The boy’s groups are Adventure Corps Explorers and Adventure Corps Rangers.

“I will be 67 next month so I know that was a big influence in my life to know the songs and get them in my head and get them in my heart. The bible verses, too, are in my head and in my heart. It was very important to learn these things,” Fields said as she shared that her husband is a pastor of a local country church and that her father was called to preach when she was in her teens.

“We all need to help each other.  We are blessed and we should be able to pass that on to the less fortunate people. That’s the way Jesus wants and that is what He went around doing. I’m not Him but if I can do just one little part, that gives me a blessing that I cannot tell you how it makes me feel,” Fields said.

As a child, Fields remembers her parents renting their home on Jared Drive.

“I’m a mortgage banker by trade. I work in a credit union right now, but banking and mortgage loans is my background.  I help first time homebuyers a lot. I work with people who are not always affluent people who need advice on how to get their credit up and how to qualify for a loan. I have my career but from that career I can help make the world better,” Fields, a lifetime Rotarian, said.

Early editions of The Salvation Army’s Sunbeam Handbook feature a smiling girl. Image from vintagekidstuff.com.

“I have not been called to be a missionary but that’s something on my mind. I’d love to be a missionary. I wasn’t called to do that with being a mother and a wife, a helpmate to my husband, and the ministry. I think a mission trip would be wonderful and the mission field is on my bucket list.  I don’t know if that will happen,” Fields said but is certainly something her heart is open to experiencing.

“You can do amazing things at a later date in life. I really believe that. I really believe that God can use a 67-year old woman the same as he can use a younger person. I know He will continue to use me throughout my life. He doesn’t put us on a shelf. He wants us to be able to uses the experiences we have and all the knowledge that we have in a way that we can share,” Fields said.

The Kingsport resident continues to live by the Sunbeams motto of “Do Right” and feels comforted by the messages she learned as a Sunbeam of God’s never-ending love.  Helping other young people to learn these messages is something she will never grow tired of doing.

“It is important to be in somebody’s life to try to make a difference if you can. I have a bible verse that is my life verse. It is Jeremiah 29:11.   I know the plans that God has for me are to give me good, not for evil, in my life. God has plans for us and they are for good, and to bring us where he wants us with hope and a future,” Fields said.

To learn more about the services offered at The Salvation Army at Kingsport, Tennessee, or to donate or volunteer, visit http://salvationarmytennessee.org/kingsport/.

Paradise Under Construction

The next chapter is unfolding for Camp Paradise Valley…with unchangeable commitment.  As part of the KT Gathering, the Divisional Leaders cast a vision for the new cabins and resulting camping experience — just part of the planned improvements coming for campers of all ages from The Salvation Army’s Kentucky & Tennessee Division.

Camp Paradise Valley has long been a place of retreat and renewal.   This Paradise is tucked into two of the valleys formed by the mountains holding in Dale Hollow Lake.  The Salvation Army purchased the camp from the Boy Scouts of America in 1963.  With both periodic, major improvements and consistent, gradual development, Camp Paradise Valley has continued to grow and change with time.

More than a decade ago, in one of the “major improvement” efforts, Camp Paradise saw its first batch of “new cabins,” replacing the oldest cabins in the greatest need.  Part of a capital campaign, the new American Camping Association (ACA) approved cabins made camp more accessible and enjoyable for participants.   Now, in another major improvement effort, the remainder of the cabins will be replaced before the summer camping season of 2019.

On a Sunday morning, Major Jim Arrowood, Divisional Commander, addressed attendees from every command across the Kentucky & Tennessee Division.  The backdrop for the unfolding vision was a banner depicting the new cabin style.  This banner also served as a symbol for the time; on one end it was tied to an old cabin, and on the other it was held up by a piece of equipment that on the next day would be used to start demolition.

“We have waited long enough,” Arrowood said to a standing crowd.  “Campers need accommodations that match the excellent programming here at Camp Paradise Valley.”  The new cabin design and other planned updates will make that a reality for new and returning campers alike.

“It’s a step in faith,” Arrowood said as he discussed the plans to begin demolition of all of the old cabins the following day.  “As faithful stewards of the public’s support, we knew we had to find the most economical way to make this dream into a reality.”  Working with local contractors and builders and doing all the cabins at once realized huge cost savings.   But that means tearing down all the remaining cabins, creating a risk of a housing shortage if there are any unforeseen complications in the construction schedule.

Michael and Joe Meyer, from Mercy Lane Construction participated in the ground breaking.  “It’s a tight schedule, but we know we have to get it done for the campers,” Michael said.  “This is a great project and will be a big improvement for campers across Kentucky and Tennessee.”

A sextet representing the KT Divisional Band offered a soundtrack to the festivities.  Colonels Ralph and Susan Bukiewicz were on camp as the Special Guests for the weekend and helped in the long-awaited ground breaking.  Captain Mark Love, Divisional Secretary for Business, led the service.  And, Captains Matt and Danielle Cunningham, Divisional Youth Secretaries, made sure it went off without a hitch…even jumping on a dozer.

Memphis Area Commanders, Captain’s Zach and Shelley Bell, joined in the ground breaking to  celebrate their community’s financial support in making the cabins possible.  Captain Bell approached long-time mission partner, FedEx, with a support proposal that included the funding for the new cabins.  Through the Bell’s hard work and FedEx’s loyal support, the dream of new cabins is becoming a reality.

The Camp Paradise Valley Facebook page will be keeping up with the construction process; providing regular updates.

Illuminated Cross at Camp Paradise Valley

Retired Officers in SAROA Donate Beacon of Hope for Campers, Visitors and Boaters

Members of the Kentucky-Tennessee Salvation Army Retired Officers Association (SAROA) funded a lighted cross at Camp Paradise Valley on the shore of Dale Hollow Lake.

Beautiful Dale Hollow Lake is situated on the Kentucky-Tennessee border. It is considered to be an excellent destination any time of the year.  In fact, it was voted the #4 lake in the nation to “Float Your Boat” by USA Today and was #1 in the “Top Ten Best Houseboating Lakes in North America” list by Pick A Slip. For fishing, six of the top 10 world record smallmouth bass have been caught in Dale Hollow Lake, according to Bassmaster.

Lt Colonels Charles and Shirley White, along with other members of Kentucky-Tennessee Salvation Army Retired Officers Association (SAROA) saw an opportunity for The Salvation Army’s Camp Paradise Valley and Conference Center because it, too, is located on the Kentucky-Tennessee border and Dale Hollow Lake.

The retired Salvation Army officers donated a lighted cross as a beacon of hope to all who see it.  Its prominent placement on the shore of Camp Paradise Valley is a 24/7/365 testimony to the thousands who enjoy Dale Hollow Lake.

“I had been on the dock several times and boats routinely come into the cove.  Boaters ride around and try to see what’s down there.  I had one boatload come up and say ‘Is this a boat club?’ and I said, ‘No, it serves children who come to camp.’ So I thought a cross would really be appropriate so that when folks ride up, they can see what the facility is,” Lt Colonel Charles White said.

The cross’s message is transcendental.

The lighted cross was also illuminated by the moon at the August 24, 2018 unveiling ceremony.

“Even though the project began before the territorial leaders came into office – Commissioner Willis Howell is now the Territorial Commander – we already had this mindset to do the cross but it’s been reinforced by the Commissioner’s messages to determine the “why” of the things we do.  Certainly we think that having the cross there for people using the camp and people seeing the camp that they will understand that this is the purpose –the “why” – that Camp Paradise Valley exists.  It is to guide people to their savior Jesus Christ that they might have a relationship with him,” White said.

On the Friday of Family Camp, August 24, 2018, SAROA had an unveiling of the cross ceremony at Camp Paradise Valley.  For Lt Colonels Charles and Shirley White, it was an emotional ceremony.

“All of our children and grandchildren went to Camp Paradise Valley. Both of us, when we went to camp, there was not a Salvation Army camp. We had to use a state park down outside of Nashville, Montgomery Bell State Park. So when we came back to serve in Nashville, we were delighted to see the Army had bought property on the beautiful Dale Hollow Lake.  We supported the camp then as Area Commanders. Then, when we came back to the Division as the Divisional  Commander and the General Secretary, we continued our support of funding and various things. But as the Divisional Commanders, we did a camp campaign and raised over $8 million dollars for improvements at Camp Paradise Valley that included the chapel, conservatory building, the hillside, the septic system and many other things. So we’ve had a big connection to the Camp through all these years,” White said.

The Whites each have 53 years of service with The Salvation Army. Although they retired from active service in 2011, they soon accepted appointments in Nashville as the Area Commander and Associate Area Commander for two years. The couple then served a six-month term in the North and South Carolina Division.

The cross is highly visible across Dale Hollow Lake.

“We formed the Kentucky-Tennessee SAROA. We were discussing what we could do for the Division as a project from the retired officers and it was unanimous that we should do something for Camp.  We voted to make it something really significant, not just buying a piece of equipment or something that might have a short life span but something that would really stand out and be something that would relate to people coming off of the camp property of what the camp really stood for and what its purpose is.  After some discussion, we all agreed we would like to do a lighted cross. We discussed it with the Divisional Commander.  He was in agreement and so we started taking pledges and donations from the retired officers when my wife, Shirley, was the president of the Kentucky-Tennessee SAROA. She finished her term last November and I was elected president,” White said.

“We’d collected about $3,500 from retired officers, pledges and payments. We then talked with Victor Rutledge, the Camp Caretaker, about it and rather than outsourcing it, he figured he could do it. So we worked with him and purchased the piece of equipment that he needed to weld the aluminum frame. Victor constructed the cross and erected it and we’ve worked with him to do that. We believe the finished product not only sends a message to people on the Camp property but to the hundreds or thousands that go up and down Dale Hollow Lake when they pass by our cove and see the lighted cross. We wanted to have something that would signify what the camp stands for and what its purpose is to serve as a reminder to folks who come on the camp property – the campers, the staff and the adults using it – but also to the general public who might be passing by wondering what this complex is,” White said.

Unveiling of the Cross Ceremony with:

Bottom row (from left to right):

  • Major Jim Arrowood, Divisional Commander
  • Colonel Ralph Bukiewicz, Chief Secretary
  • Lt. Colonel Charles White, Pastoral Care Officer

Top row (from left to right):

  • Major Linda Arrowood, Divisional Director of Women’s Ministries/Mission & Ministry Development
  • Colonel Susan Bukiewicz, Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries
  • Lt. Colonel Shirley White, Pastoral Care Officer

 

Lt Colonel Charles White is quick to make it understood that it was a group effort with one person playing a particularly large role.

“It was a group effort supported by everyone.  However, Victor Rutledge gets the most credit.  SAROA had an idea and he’s the one who made it a reality.  He is the Camp Caretaker and his wife, Stephanie, books the facility and oversees the housekeeping staff for the Camp throughout the year. He did an excellent job with it and, in fact, saved us a lot of money.  That was the first aluminum welding project that he ever did and he did an outstanding job,” White said.

Camp Paradise Valley is a special place for the White family but it is what the Camp does for the children of Kentucky and Tennessee that make it so meaningful to them.

“Many of the children come from inner cities – Louisville, Memphis, Chattanooga, Nashville, Knoxville – and rarely, if ever, do they get to go out and see God’s handiwork, his creation, so we think that the Camp in that respect introduces or brings them to a closer relationship with their Creator.  And certainly, the cross now will be a symbol that will demonstrate to them that God not only created them but loves them and is providing a future for them that is found in Jesus Christ,” White said.

The affirmative experiences at Camp Paradise Valley have a great impact on the campers.

“Of course, their relationships with counselors, the officers, and the staff while they are at Camp are certainly a great positive. The children seldom get positive reinforcement or encouragement or good direction probably in their home life.  It just shows them again that someone loves them and they have value and that they are important in the kingdom of God,” White said.

For the Whites, their service to The Salvation Army has come full circle as they enjoy their retirement in Owensboro, Kentucky.

“We both grew up in The Salvation Army here in Owensboro. We started about the same time but it wasn’t until our mid-teenage years that both of us felt God’s direction and calling to full-time service. Shirley is a bit older than I am so she recognized the calling before I had and had already made a commitment to become a Salvation Army Officer. I was actually working ringing bells in December in Owensboro in the snow on Main Street when the Corps officer came and invited me to get a cup of hot chocolate.  So, I was pretty thrilled with that and went with him.  He introduced the idea to me and asked the question, ‘Have you ever thought of becoming a Salvation Army officer?’ It was from that seed that was planted that God used and spoke to me. Later that spring at a Salvation Army youth rally that’s when a call was given and I went forward and made that commitment to follow Him in full-time service as a Salvation Army officer,” White said.

With the lighted cross, Lt Colonel Charles White and the members of SAROA hope many new seeds will be planted in the minds of others as they boat on the beautiful Dale Hollow Lake or visit The Salvation Army’s Camp Paradise Valley and Conference Center.

If you are interested in volunteering or donating, go to http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/volunteer for additional information.

Fireworks added to the festivities at the unveiling ceremony.

The cross and full moon shine across the Dale Hollow Lake.

The moon was full for the unveiling ceremony.

Lt Colonel Charles White speaks to the attendees about SARAO’s efforts to fund and build the lighted cross at Camp Paradise Valley.

The cross was illuminated during the musical and speaking presentations.

A close-up of the illuminated cross constructed by Major Victor Rutledge.