Sixteen kids who have experienced homelessness and domestic violence got to go to camp this summer with help from REACH and our funding partner, the Steve Glidden Foundation.
The kids were between the ages of 5 and 14 (12 were “new” campers we haven’t funded before and 4 were returning). They chose between day camp, overnight camp or camps specifically tailored to their interests such as dance or sports. Camp provides a safe and positive environment where they can develop healthy relationships with their peers. REACH makes arrangements for camp as part of our Child and Adolescent Therapy program, which provides free therapy to children who have witnessed or experienced violence, as well as help with parenting.
For kids who have experienced a lot of instability in their young lives, it can be a really powerful thing to maintain relationships with friends year after year by returning to camp. In addition, camp helps foster resiliency in children and allows them to develop positive peer relationships while promoting self-confidence/self-esteem.
We got this email from one of our volunteers who drove some kids to camp this year:
“I’m so glad that REACH made it possible for Lindsey and Sam to go to summer camp. I picked them up yesterday afternoon and they looked wiped – I was kind of worried what Lindsey might say about her day when she got into my car. (She is not one to be diplomatic – she has a pretty sophisticated, sarcastic sense of humor for a ten year old). Instead she said ‘this place is so cool’ – and later on the ride she said ‘at first I was so shy and didn’t say anything but then I made three friends.’ Apparently, neither of the kids have done much swimming – and they are going to get some confidence in the water out of this involvement. I worry about the kids whose mothers don’t drive and can’t take them to activities. I worry about kids who don’t have a blade of grass in their yard (it’s all driveway) to run on. I worry about kids whose families don’t have the money to take advantage of activities being offered in the community. Those conditions all describe Lindsey and Sam and I am so happy that REACH made it possible for them to spend their days at camp.”
REACH’s Child and Adolescent Therapy program also provided backpacks stuffed full of school supplies for 168 kids, with help from our friends at Cradles to Crayons and School on Wheels. One young boy who was experiencing a lot of anxiety about starting kindergarten said he was excited to go now that he had a backpack! Another kid’s mom sat on the floor in our office and examined the items in the bag one by one – “like it was a Christmas stocking,” her advocate said. The mom knew she would be receiving a backpack for her child but couldn’t believe how thoughtfully stocked it was with everything he needed to begin the school year.
Even for those of us who are out of school, the coming of fall brings with it that feeling of new beginnings, of a year ahead full of hope and possibility. We want all domestic violence survivors to experience that feeling as they move forward from abuse and envision a better life for themselves and their children.
An advocate’s car packed with backpacks to be delivered