It’s About Small Successes at This Adventure Camp

by Salvation Army
Categories: Feature
It’s About Small Successes at This Adventure Camp

It’s About Small Successes at This Adventure Camp

First-time campers don’t know a lot about life in the outdoors, including how to paddle a kayak, pitch a tent or build a campfire. Those are the survival skills they learn while in the wilderness.

But it’s rare that a camper doesn’t know how to ride a bike.

That’s a skill parents are supposed to teach their kids as a rite of passage.

So when one of the teens at the Salvation Army’s Newport Adventure Camp dug in his heels refusing to ride the woodland bike trails, Gina Haggett sensed there was more than bad attitude at play. Turns out, he’d never had a bike and no one had ever taught him to ride, said the camp’s new director. The youth was too embarrassed to admit it. Once he did, his counsellors went to work and within hours the 14-year-old was riding on his own. Now that was one happy camper.

Helping young people find their way is the goal at Newport Adventure Camp and other Salvation Army camps, including the Blaze program for younger kids at Jackson’s Point. The Salvation Army has been offering summer escapes for children since 1898 when the first camp was established in England. In those early days, the success of the camp was based on the number of pounds children gained while there, said Haggett of poor children who were deprived of food.

These days, children are respected for who they are and their voices are heard. That may not always be the case at home. “They’re important and we show them,” said Haggett, adding that at camp, even the smallest successes are celebrated.

Connections to their faith are also strengthened. “At camp, there’s a strong Biblical foundation. Each child receives a Bible. We feed body and soul.”

The Toronto Star Fresh Air Fund ensures those who need help to attend camp get it. “The funds we get transforms lives,” said Haggett, adding the camp gives economically disadvantaged children the opportunity to just be kids by providing a good experience and creating great memories.

There’s only one rule – “Respect. Everything else, including the Bible, fun, fellowship and friendship, rolls into it.”

Amanda has been attending salvation Army camps since she was knee-high to a grasshopper. She comes back for the people and friendships she has made. This year, she’s signed up for the camp’s new dance program where she’s been perfecting her hip hop moves. “If I wasn’t at camp I’d just be hanging around with friends doing nothing,” said the 13-year-old.

Ditto for Matthew who’s into archery and outdoor living. “I’m learning how to survive on the basics.”

Amanda admitted she missed her mom at first. “But the closer to the end of the camp, the harder it is to leave,” she said.

By Leslie Ferenc
Reproduced with permission – Torstar Syndication Services