Summer camp is something that nearly every kid dreams of going to, at least once. There’s something special about being able to get away from the family for a week or two, be immersed in nature, and generally feel independant.
There are also a few camps out there that take the idea a step further, promoting ideas within the setting that can help children heal, feel as if they’re not alone, and even to give them a family.
Whether you’re looking for a special camp for your child with special needs, looking to adopt a child that needs a family, or would like a worthy cause to donate time or money to, these camps offer something amazing.
Hundreds of older children – “too old” to be adopted – remain in Russian orphanages until they turn 16, when they’re faced with the grim realities of living totally on their own. Faced with this during a visit to a Russian orphanage seven years ago, adoption-agency direcor Alla Lakov was shocked by the number of these kids, needing nothing more than a home.
When Lakov returned to America, she began organizing Camp Hope. This organization brings older Russian children to America where they get to stay with host families for 10-12 days of activities, adventure, and love. The goal is to help the children get adopted, and has been very successful in meeting their goal. In their first year of operation, Camp Hope was able to adpt each of the 11 kids who participated in the program.
To stay running, Camp Hope relies on host families, volunteers for the camp, and donations from people all over the country. This year’s camp will be held in June and Camp Hope is still looking for more help.
Get in contact with Camp Hope by visiting their website, www.camphope.net, or by calling one of the directors: Alla Lakov (978-689-2442) or Shannon Free (515-778-9019. You can also email Alla at [email protected] or Shannon at [email protected]
One of very few camps dedicated to helping children who have suffered the loss of a loved one, Camp Agape offers the fun and adventure of a traditional summer camp alongside group therapy activities to help children with the bereavement process. They use art, music, games and play to offer a theme of hope for childrens’ futures. By relying on sponsors to pave the way for children to attend camp, the child and their guardians are not charged for attendance.
How can you help? As a 501(c)3 organization, Camp Agape is entirely nonprofit so any monetary gifts you can give are tax-deductible. You can also sponsor a child to attend the camp, which is how they can continue operating without charging childrens’ families for attendance. Camp Agape is also usually on the lookout for volunteers to share time and talents with their program – a background check will be performed, but anyone aged 15 and above is welcome to work with Camp Agape (these volunteer hours can be used toward Continuing Education Credits for Licensed Therapists, Counselors and Social Workers. Community Service Hours of credit can be earned by high school students).
To learn more about providing the Camp Agape program to children in your community or to get more information on the camp, you can contact Kim Turk at (512-756-7353) or visit their website.
Camp for All
Open year-round, Camp for All is located in the gently rolling hills of Washington County, Texas. A unique camping and retreat, this group aims to enrich the lives of children with special needs, promoting self-esteem, self-awareness and independance through recreational, therapeutic, and educational programs.
Children and adults alike are welcome at Camp for All, enhancing the lives of all people with chronic illnesses and disabilities. With their week-long summer camps, weekend retreats and day programs, they serve more than 70 different special needs and mission-related organizations annually, aiding hundreds of people every year.
Because they’re a non-profit organization, any donations you make to Camp for All are tax-deductible. Unlike many similar programs, CFA doesn’t rely on government or United Way funding – they are dependant on individuals, foundations, and corporations to help them continue providing a unique camping experience. You can find out more about their many special funds by visiting this page, or by contacting them:Camp For All, 10500 Northwest Freeway, Suite 220, Houston, TX 77092. Phone: 713-686-5666
There are also several volunteer opportunities available, including Camp for All Friends, Young Professionals, and Camp Care Days. Detailed information on each of the opportunities is available on their website.