From the Advocate: Summer camp: A rare opportunity for underprivileged youth
May 4, 2016 / By Anita Leitgeb
It continues to be a privilege to partner with the Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church Camp & Retreat Ministries (CRM) to provide summer camp opportunities for children served by the Rescue Mission in Syracuse, Auburn, Binghamton, and Ithaca.
Summer camp provides a much-needed respite from the many challenges these children face daily. It’s an opportunity for them to be a kid for a week and truly provides them with a solid foundation for today and for the future. Many of the children served by the Rescue Mission have never experienced swimming in a lake, singing songs around a campfire, savoring a s’more, going on a wagon ride, or simply enjoying God’s beautiful creation. Many have also not experienced the start of a relationship with God.
After a week away at camp, we always enjoy hearing what the campers’ favorite activities were – in most cases, chapel time tops their list! It is amazing to hear the children talk about their summer camp experiences months later when we visit them in our food service center or clothing outreach store. Clearly the impact of even one week at camp can kindle greater confidence and hope for a brighter future.
I will never forget the day late last summer when some of the camp staff visited our Syracuse campus. One of our campers and his/her family walked down Gifford Street, and the camper and camp counselor reunited, even if only for a few minutes. The counselor met the camper’s mom and siblings, and it was like they all had known each other for years. It was such a blessing to watch this chance meeting unfold from afar, knowing the impact that this counselor had on this camper.
Thank you, CRM, for partnering with the Rescue Mission to help change lives, one child at a time.
Editor’s note: Anita Leitgeb is the Assistant Director of Special Events for the Rescue Mission. In 2013 and 2014, CRM gave the Rescue Mission scholarships for kids connected to its Family Transitions Program in Auburn to attend summer camp. In 2015, CRM extended that outreach to Rescue Mission kids in Syracuse and Binghamton. The Rescue Mission was so excited about that program that it raised scholarship money itself and paid for 35 kids to attend camp from its Auburn, Syracuse, and Binghamton sites. This year, CRM has offered 15 scholarships to the Rescue Mission to recruit campers from Syracuse, Auburn, Binghamton, and Ithaca. Leitgeb said she hopes to supplement that number by raising money again this year to increase the number of kids the Rescue Mission sends to summer camp.