Ah, summertime… when young boys’ hearts turn to days of freedom with no school. Swimming, hanging out with friends, vacation trips, etc., all rites of summer passage. But not all little boys… not the fifth graders I talk to in my mentoring groups at Hall elementary school .
“What are your plans for the summer?” I ask my group of boys. Some say playing video games, some say hanging out with friends or going to the park… the lucky ones mention signing up at a local youth institution for a rec program. “What are you gonna do?” I ask one boy who remained silent “Well…”, he says, “we’ll probably play in the basement and not go outside much. They be shooting over by my house. I’m scared to go outside.” All the rest of the boys nod their heads solemnly in agreement and understanding.
This is the reality of summer for children in the neighborhoods we work in. A few weeks ago a young woman was shot just two blocks from school grounds. You never know when violence will erupt and where. Gangbangers, violence, drug dealing… these are everyday hazards for the children we work with. Keeping your kids in the house is the only viable way for many parents to ensure their kids’ safety… but many times random bullets penetrate house walls. For single parents who work it is hardest. The fortunate child gets enrolled in day long summer rec programs, but these programs fill up quickly and unless you have a parent who has the time, resources or inclination to plan ahead these are not an option. So many young children are left with too much time on their hands; to wallow in boredom and fear, and to get in trouble. We attempt to fill the gap for many of these boys, with weekly summer activities such as swimming, basketball and various field trips; but the highlight of the summer for our kids is camp.
Camp… where you get away from the fear and boredom of your neighborhood and can be carefree and have fun: go swimming, play sports, hike in the woods, etc. Camp… where you can challenge yourself by engaging in activities you never imagined like horseback riding or sailing, waterskiing or rock climbing. Camp… where you can hang out with your friends or meet new people and not have every engagement be fraught with the tension of who’s toughest, who can fight, or negative peer pressure. Camp… where you know you will eat three times a day, where you know adults are around watching out for you, where you know you will be cared for, you are not on your own.
We are hoping to take 50 kids on various camping experiences this summer, as well as offering regular enriching activities. We do not charge for kids to be involved in our programs… instead we ask them to work and do chores around the neighborhood (which in itself is a great enriching activity). It costs $300 for one kid to go to camp. We ask for your financial support to help us offer these kids some relief from the stressful and tense time of summer in our inner city neighborhoods. We are asking people to sponsor a child for camp, or make any amount of contribution, but to go beyond their regular giving to give our kids a great summer experience. Thank you. We covet your prayers for a powerful summer of ministry for Christ’s Children, in Christ’s name.