VESTIA refers hundreds of at-risk children to camp each year through the popular Kids 2 Camp Program. Providing week-long overnight campership, children discover nature in a nurturing and learning environment. VESTIA also refers over 100 children from Pittsburg for the Kidz on Target Program. This one-day event provides at-risk children with new school clothes, shoes, backpacks, and breakfast.
Do you remember going camping as a child? Remember the anticipation of spending a weekend away from home, or perhaps a week in the wild, fishing, boating, swimming, hiking and sleeping under a tree in a hammock? Then at night, you sit around the camp fire, under the bright stars above and eat melted marshmallows and share ghosts stories as an owl hoots in the background!
Here at VESTIA we strive to provide children with positive life experiences, and camp is one of them. Camps help children build their confidence, learn social skills and gain valuable experiences they can use the rest of their lives. It is also a great place for the child to feel like a kid and leave their worries behind. Many of the children we work with often times don’t have that luxury of leaving their everyday problems behind. They face so many issues such as homelessness, sexual and physical abuse and other basic mistreatment. But sometimes, just a weekend away from their everyday fears and burdens can mean a world of difference.
Kids that have experienced camp want to return. Social workers tell us how a child wants to return to a specific camp because he or she “just loved it”. Some children come to camp with “emotional shields”, not wanting to participate – but by the end of the 10-day camp, their personalities soar, and they are kids again.
Let’s not forget our teenagers, who also need understanding and a positive role model! Help us, give these children a chance to experience camp and leave their worries behind, so they can enjoy being children. There is nothing more valuable than these experiences. Sending a child to camp is an investment. An investment into your community and the nation’s future. How would you like to give a child the opportunity to experience camp? What an investment! Can you imagine how happy you could make a child?
VESTIA’s camp referral program gives low-income children who receive cash aid and children in foster care the opportunity to attend summer camp. Many of these children only go to summer school or simply stay home for the summer. We want these children to have a positive experience by sending them to one of our six summer camps. There’s nothing like swimming in a lake and looking at the beautiful stars at night, wishing on a shooting star… Let’s not forget the gathering around the camp fire, eating toasted marshmallows!
Last year, a foster parent had a sibling group of three children in her home. She signed up the two oldest and called saying little “Grace” who was only 7 years old, not quite old enough to go with her siblings, was going to be lonely! She had never been separated from her siblings before. I worked with the foster mom to sign-up little “Grace” to attend one of our camps which is targeted specifically toward children in foster care. Fortunately, little “Grace” was gone at the same time her siblings were. A couple of weeks after summer camp, the foster mother called back to report on the children. The two older siblings had a great time and can’t wait to go again next year!!! Little “Grace” had such a wonderful time and loved every minute of it! She came home with a few souvenirs from camp which she put in a shoe box. She carried her box all over, and everywhere she went in the house she would gently open her box and play with them. She couldn’t stop talking about camp for days…
As we grow into adulthood we draw upon our childhood experiences, and if they were positive we want our children to experience the same.