Summer Camp: A Community Development Strategy

by Bob Lupton on


School is out. Kids are happy. They can sleep in now. But it won’t be long before they’re bored. And, like grandma used to say: “idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” Summer camp is the ideal solution for city kids whose mom’s leave early for jobs that put bread on the table. Camp offers a place for youth to stretch themselves, to discover they are capable of more than they imagined. Every year, FCS sponsors young people as they take off for sleepaway camp. Camp is fun – field trips, crafts, baseball games, swimming lessons. But it is more than fun and games.

Away from home, youth discover their capabilities exceed their expectations. One ropes course staff remembers a participant from years back scaling a climbing structure. “She reached top and burst into tears. All she kept on saying while crying ‘I didn’t think I could do it. I can’t believe I did it.’”

Camp is about confidence-building activities and opportunities for leadership development. Teenagers of burgeoning influence get the chance to witness the influence they have on younger neighbors. Camp provides an ideal place for them to learn how to direct that power over their smaller admirers. The responsibility settles on the shoulders of these youth who have been maturing socially and spiritually over the past year(s), and they get the opportunity to exercise their leadership before watchful and absorbent eyes. Nothing solidifies one's beliefs more than having to teach those beliefs to others. Nothing builds one's confidence like having others follow your example and aspire to be like you. Taking time to invest in this new generation is an essential strategy for community transformation.

Summer camp shapes in our young people values that will serve them well as they emerge into young adulthood. To that end, camp is a bargain. With imagination and a lot of volunteer help, we will organize a summer packed with positive experiences that will be affordable for our low-income neighbors. But they will need a bit of our support. A $100 sponsorship will enable a child to participate in a summer full of enriching activities. Can we count on you to sponsor a child (or several children)? It’s one of the best investments I know.

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