Nathan couldn't wait to tell his Cunningham counselors about his week at summer camp. He especially loved the zip line, though it was a little scary at first, and he had lots of fun bouncing off a floating foam "lily pad" while swimming in the lake. "I'm a different person," the 15-year old proclaimed. "Everything has changed!" The transformation in Nathan has been evident to others, too. He is relating better to his peers and showing empathy for others. On the day after his return from the Lutheran Outdoor Ministries camp (LOMC) in Oregon, Illinois, Nathan prayed out loud for another youth who was having a bad day.
This summer, four youth from our residential treatment program attended week-long church camps, thanks to the generosity of Cunningham's friends. These kids had shown they were ready to "try their wings" in a different setting where they could have new experiences, build cooperative social skills and test their independence in a safe environment.
Cameron went to the United Methodist Church's East Bay Camp on Lake Bloomington. "They sure kept us busy. There was swimming, hiking, canoeing, and songs around the campfire," he reported. "We weren't allowed to have any electronics, but that was okay. We played cards and one night slept out in a tent." One of the best camp experiences for Cameron was "making people laugh."
Dayton doesn't care much for being outside. He'd rather stay in and read a Harry Potter book. LOMC's Hogwarts Camp was perfect for him. While there was still some hiking, and some poison ivy, most camp activities were drawn from the popular fiction series. Dayton lived in Hufflepuff House and enjoyed playing Quidditch Cups with his fellow campers, though he said no flying broomsticks were involved. Like all the camp sessions, Hogwarts Camp included daily bible study.
Summer camp is transformational for all young people. For Cunningham kids, camp is especially important in helping them develop interpersonal skills, participate in multi-sensory activities, and experience the outdoors while preparing them for life outside Cunningham.
Thanks, to all of our staff who worked on making our kids' camp arrangements. Now it's time for a great school year!