Blessings come in many shapes, sizes and opportunities. The Toby’s RV Resort carvers have experienced first-hand exactly what this means.

Three years ago while on a visit to the Gator Wilderness Camp School, Dave Todd found himself sharing with the boys pictures of carvings he had done as a member of the Toby’s Carvers and Peace River Carvers. Sensing a real interest in the art by many of the boys, he pursued the possibility of the Toby carvers working with the boys to not only teach the boys this art, but to also mentor to them. The staff at the school was onboard 100 percent, and so the blessing began.

The carvers work with the staff at the school at the beginning of each season to set up a schedule where the boys either come to Toby’s for a session or the carvers go to the camp. During their time together, the carvers work one-on-one with the boys as they begin a carving project and design selected by the staff and the carvers.

Their first project is a walking stick, with specific carving techniques involved. Each boy is given the same project design in the beginning, but by the end every one of the sticks reflects each boy’s own personality.

And it’s obvious how proud they are of their project!

And this project didn’t end with the carvers. The ladies of the park have made the boys blankets and pillowcases, stocking hats and other essentials necessary for living out in nature. A strong bond has been formed between Gator Wilderness Camp School and Toby’s park through this carving program.

“We have developed a great relationship with the staff as we work together to guide and mentor the boys,” said Carl Pipp, one of the carvers.

At the end of each season, the boys and staff are invited to a lunch provided by Toby’s Activity Board, after which the whole park is invited to gather to listen to the boys entertain with their enthusiastic singing. The afternoon is capped off with the unveiling of their projects for the park residents to view.

“When you see what the boys have done in a short period of time,” said Bill Payne, “it’s amazing! Few, if any, have had any carving experience, so to see how far they have come, from laying the project out, to learning and using the proper cutting techniques, it’s quite impressive.”

The Peace River Carvers Club has been very supportive of this program, realizing that unless someone takes the lead, this may well be another lost art in the years to come. By engaging these youth in carving, it lessens the possibility of that happening.

“As we work with these boys, we form very special bonds,” said Dave Todd. “We understand the importance of having a strong and positive male presence in their lives, and that is our hope of the program. It’s not just a skill we are teaching them.

“Truthfully, we carvers all agree, we don’t know who is blessed more by this program — the boys or each of us,” Todd added.


photo provided

Posing for a group photo.


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