summer overnight leadership camp
Girl at summer camp pool
"The Camp is Home for me. You need to understand that everywhere my family lives, people go out of their way to make it clear that we don’t belong. The landlord, the school principal, the police, the farmer. The Overnight Camp is the one place where people go out of their way to make it clear that I do belong. It is also the one place where I know that I will be every year” (A young camper commenting on camp a few years ago)
The Summer Leadership Overnight Camp is “home”
to over one hundred children ages eight to eighteen, along with a
professional and volunteer staff of forty – at the end of August
every year. For over twenty years rural and migrant children have
gotten to know RMM and we have gotten to know them.
And they become a part of the RMM family.
Each year close to half of the staff are former campers, and
many more former campers come back to visit as the camp more and
more also becomes “reunion week”
At first glance the camp seems like a typical camp, which is our
goal. We want to offer a camp that would make anyone proud. So we have swimming, and outdoors activities, music, the arts
and trips. But the camp is much more. We have
- To enable the children to be children. Most come from
difficult economic situations and face many barriers. As we mentioned above, they are forced to shoulder great
burdens and the cost often is that they don’t get to be
children. This camp is first and foremost about having fun.
- The Camp is also about living in community, especially in
the midst of diversity. Our campers and staff come from a
variety of cultural backgrounds. Often they arrive from
situations of racial, gender and age divide. The Camp looks to
explore how to honor diversity and live in the midst of it –
seeking opportunity and strength from one another.The camp truly is a diverse community with about 40%
African-American, 45% Latino, and 15% European American (Both
campers and staff)
- An important component of the Camp is affirmation. Our
campers are special! And we want them to know that. In a world
where they often run into barriers and negative feedback, often
rooted in racism, prejudice and adultism; our goal is to affirm
- As we seek to nurture the self-esteem of the campers, we are
also committed to nurturing leadership development. At the Camp,
Campers are encouraged to dream, and in turn, to examine the
barriers they face in living out their dreams. Hand in hand with this exploration is a beginning
examination of the issues, dreams and barriers that their
communities face. Through role models,
workshops and the arts we seek to help campers develop the basic
skills they need.
The Basics of the Camp!
- It is a sleep-away camp that meets for one week. For the past few years we have held the camp at Camp Kutz in Warwick, New York
- We usually hold camp the third or fourth week of August
- It costs us about $40,000 to hold the camp (mostly room and board)
- Our counselors are all volunteers. Our camp directors are all professionals. We also utilize a remarkable group of professional artists-in-residence from across the United States.
- There are at least one hundred children ages 8-18. (If we could raise more funds and find more staff then we could accommodate more campers)
- The camp is divided up into three age groups called Hope, Justice and Empowerment.
- Boys and girls sleep in different cabins
- We do background checks on our staff and everybody receives safe-child training.
- The Camp is Theme-based, with a different theme every summer
A Typical Day
- The Morning: we begin with a hot breakfast, morning exercises and songs and then the three age groups divide up and go to a morning long program with a team of artists-in-residence
- After a hot lunch, the afternoon is filled with “Choice Times” as campers and staff choose an activity or a workshop that interests them from swimming and broom hockey to journalism 101 to the performing and visual arts to “understanding how the media tries to get you to buy things”
- Following supper, there is “Stoop Time” as the whole camp hangs out playing games or talking. Then there is an evening program where we welcome guest performers and speakers. Finally we bring the day to a close with Vespers as we gather around a campfire and share stories, song, prayers and hopes.
History of the Camp