LifeMoves Summer Adventure Camp: A Fresh Perspective for All
By Parisa Mir
The LifeMoves Summer Adventure Camp has truly been an unforgettable experience, both for the campers and the staff members involved. As I reflect on my time working with LifeMoves, I must admit that my initial expectations were far from reality. Coming into my first day, I held preconceived notions about what the summer would entail, but now, having completed the season, I can confidently say that my imagination couldn’t have been more inaccurate. The journey has been a transformative one, filled with heartwarming surprises and valuable life lessons.
In the beginning, like many others, I believed that the children attending the camp, being homeless, might carry some emotional baggage or present challenging behavior. I quickly learned, however, that these kids are nothing short of remarkable. Their resilience, spirit, and capacity to form connections touched my heart. Many of them came into camp with some walls up, understandably guarded after experiencing hardships and instability. But as I spent time getting to know them, sharing laughs, and engaging in activities together, I witnessed a great transformation. They slowly opened up and treated us counselors not just as mentors but as genuine friends.
These bonds we formed with the children hold immense significance. For some of them, the camp might be their safe space, away from the uncertainty of their daily lives. It’s a place where they can find companionship, understanding, and acceptance. Many of these kids face great hardships, and some have a hard time making friends or struggle with trust issues. By being a part of their summer experience, we were able to show them that there is good in the world and that they are worthy of our unconditional support.
Every day at the camp presented new opportunities for growth and learning, not just for the campers, but for us staff members as well. We witnessed the power of compassion and the positive impact it can have on young lives. It wasn’t just about organizing activities or supervising playtime; it was about being present, listening to their stories, and empowering them to explore their creativity and talents. We were able to let them gain some control as well. Sometimes, the campers would suggest a different activity from what was previously planned, and if we had the means we would facilitate it. This meant a lot to the kids and showed them that their opinions mattered. Furthermore, with some of the older kids, we would let them take on more of an assertive role in order to build leadership and communicative skills. We found that this worked extremely well and the kids thrived under this system.
As the summer draws to a close, I find myself incredibly grateful for the time spent at the LifeMoves Summer Adventure Camp. I’ve gained new perspectives on homelessness, and I now understand that it’s not a defining characteristic of these children but merely an unfortunate circumstance they are facing. Their potential, dreams, and aspirations are no different from any other child, and I am hopeful that through our collective efforts, we have sowed seeds of hope that will flourish in their lives
From Nervousness to Community to Connection
By Aahaan Bandopadhyay
When I took that first step on the grass at Biebrach Park, I was incredibly nervous. Nervous about what would happen if I was unable to work with my fellow interns, or worse, if the campers hated me. However those feelings quickly melted away in the 90 degree summer heat as one of the campers, with a face paint of a dragon on his face, tugged on my sleeve and asked me to come push him on the screen.
Even on my first day I could sense the community that was there between the older and younger campers. The older campers acted as role models for the younger ones, helping us lead activities or bringing the younger kids over to the arts and crafts activities. The younger kids helped us understand the issues that some of the older kids had faced. There were two brothers, the older being Daniel and the younger being Damien. At camp we have a period of time called “Rocket Reading”, where students are encouraged to read for cash prizes to use on whatever they want. Daniel picked out a book for himself and helped Damien pick out a book before separating from the rest of the group, which I found strange since the two of them are usually the more social of the group. I walked over and sat next down to Daniel, noticing that as I approached, he stopped reading. I moved closer to Damien and Daniel started to read again. Unprompted, Damien whispered in my ear that Daniel had trouble reading with people watching him. It touched me that only did Damien notice this about his brother but also wanted to make the effort to get help for him. I’d heard stories of how many of the campers had struggled with issues with fitting in at school due to moving around from different housing areas, which made the older kids more adverse to asking for help as they felt as if they needed to be the ones helping instead.
It’s only been three weeks of camp so far, and I already feel as if I’ve formed a connection with many of the campers, both inside and outside of camp. Whether they’re telling me stories of their days or showing me their favorite music, the kids at camp seem to have so much fun playing with each other and doing the activities that we planned for them. I’m so glad that I’m able to be a part of what is hopefully the best memories that they have this summer.
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