It’s a beautiful summer afternoon in Lakeside, and 6th, 7th and 8th graders are making their way to Cherry Park to join their friends for the Middle Grade Madness (MGM) program led by Bonnie and John Wilkie. Lakeside’s MGM program provides middle school children and teens aged 10-14 years old opportunities to enjoy fellowship, fun and activity-based learning all summer long. MGM is a youth program directly supported by the Lakeside Annual Fund. The relationships the middle school children develop with each other, God and the Wilkies enrich their lives immeasurably.
“The Wilkies have curated a program that lets kids shine and share their talents,” said Molly McNamara, a longtime Lakesider and previous attendee of MGM. “Whether your interest is music, sports, reading, or acting, the Wilkies find a place for you to shine in MGM. I have never felt more loved by God than I did during the MGM program.”
John and Bonnie Wilkie have coordinated the MGM program and assisted Chip Richter with Wednesday Night Family picnics for the past 18 years. They met Chip Richter at a Children’s Pastors conference as they both had booths set up for their concert ministries. They became fast friends, sharing meals and playing guitar together.
“Chip invited us to ‘help” him for a week at Lakeside. We were so impressed with the kids and families we met here, we didn’t want to leave,” said John Wilkie. “After that summer ended, Chip helped set up an interview and create a position for a program for kids to attend once they aged out of God Squad. We accepted the position and started MGM the next year.”
Many Lakesiders and guests know of MGM from the lemonade stands. One summer, John and Bonnie’s theme for MGM was ‘Water in the Bible.’ They taught the MGM attendees about an organization that builds wells in third world countries, and, together, the group created a fundraising goal of $100 which would purchase one well. The middle school MGM attendees had lemonade stands and a myriad of other small fundraisers to help earn money to reach the goal.
“In the end, the children raised $2000, and we were able to purchase 20 wells. Who says kids cannot change the world — ours did!”
The traditions that everyone shares, such as MGM, are only made possible through the philanthropic support of generous and passionate Lakeside families and friends like you. By giving to the Lakeside Annual Fund on Dec. 1, 2020 in honor of #GivingTuesday, you help to ensure that your children of yesterday, your friends of today and your great grandchildren of tomorrow can share the same enriching life experiences at Lakeside such as the MGM program.
“John and Bonnie Wilkie make the Lakeside experience for so many families each summer,” said Molly. “The environment of the MGM program facilitates the development of friendships based on inclusion, faith, and fun. In MGM, I found my best friends, identified and was praised for my God-given strengths, and learned the Word through engaging lessons. Even after children “age out” of MGM, they assist and stay in contact with the Wilkies which demonstrates how valued this program is to our community.”
“When we see kids move on from our program to high school and college, we know we had an impact on their development,” said Bonnie. “I’ve been to football games, band concerts, plays and college campuses of those who previously attended MGM.”