As children, we all visited places, participated in activities and met people who have shaped our lives. Memories were created that will never fade.
If you ever went to a summer camp, undoubtedly, some of those memories still come to mind. Summer camps offer kids the opportunity to be active, meet people and spend time in a place that is truly special.
However, too many foster kids never enjoy these opportunities. Fortunately, there are many summer camps across the U.S. that encourage foster kids as campers and provide them experiences that they’ll never forget. Since May is National Foster Care month, it’s the perfect time to help you find a great camp for the foster child in your life.
Teen Reach Adventure Camps
In 2000 Tim and Serena Howell started a ministry with the goal of creating summer camps for neglected youth. They worked with local churches to receive the training and information needed to start summer camps for teens.
There are now more than 20 Teen Reach Adventure Camps operating from coast to coast. States where you’ll find a TRAC program include Alabama, Arizona, California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington.
To learn more specific information on locations and the program in general, check out their website.
Royal Family Kids
Similar to how TRAC promotes and facilities summer camps for adolescents, Royal Family Kids runs summer camps for foster children between the ages of seven and 11.
There are dozens of camps across the country. The vision of Royal Family Kids is to give every young foster child a life-changing experience and to connect each child with a club and a mentor.
Harvest Foster Kids Camp
A little girl was picking up her camp name tag. She found hers but continued to search. She was looking to see if her brother and sister would be attending the camp. It had been months since they had last seen each other.
Later, when her siblings arrived, they were just as anxious and excited to see her as she was to see them. That’s the kind of magic that happens at camps like the Harvest Foster Kids Camp in Oklahoma City, which will celebrate its eighth year of operation in the summer of 2013.
With donations and the support of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, the camp offers four-day sessions at no charge to foster families. The purpose of the camp is “to create positive memories for children whose childhood memories are of distrust, anger, hurt, abuse and low self-esteem.”
According to one camper, “I love camp, and I don’t want to go home.” It looks like Harvest is achieving its purpose.
Happy Trails Camp
This program in California holds week-long camps for foster children at camping areas throughout the state. A $50 deposit is required to hold a child’s spot, but the money is fully refunded after the camp.
With the companionship of other kids who are going through the same challenges, the campers can escape the loneliness of foster care and just be kids again. Happy Trails Camp even goes beyond the week-long outdoor experience as other activities are available throughout the year for camp alumni.
Long View Ranch
This summer camp located in the foothills of East Tennessee isn’t an exclusive foster kids’ camp. Long View Ranch brings in about ten foster children for each regular camp session. It’s a non-denominational Christian camp located on the west side of the Smoky Mountains.
All of the activities that make camp enjoyable for most kids are available here: canoeing, water skiing, horseback riding, archery, paintball, crafts, mountain-biking and a lot more.
These camps are not only great places for foster children but also worthwhile recipients of your financial support and volunteer time. Investing your time into children’s lives can be both rewarding and have a life-long impact on the children. Foster children are in foster care because somehow their family is falling apart – reaching out to them and confirming that you care about them can be profoundly life-changing.
Chris Turberville-Tully writes for USA Summer Camp, an organization that helps volunteers work as counselors in camps across the US. When not writing, Chris can be found enjoying the seaside or traveling abroad with his family.