Wishing Everyone A Happy Thankgiving!

Our campers are giving thanks for the gift of camp, reflecting upon the generosity of our donors and the impact that camp had upon them this past summer.

1st Summer Camper, Ollie shares his message of thanks.

 

Phyllis from Denver, CO wishes everyone connected with JACF a Happy Thanksgiving!

We are so thankful for all of the incredible support that we have received over the past year. This dedication to our cause helped us to send a record number of kids to camp in the summer of 2018. Thank You!

JACF ‘to the nines’

Summer 2018 was a landmark year for JACF as it funded 104 young people to attend our NINE associate camps. In this post, we are introduced to NINE of these incredible young people and learn a little about how their time at camp is helping to shape them ‘to the nines’.

We are incredibly proud of all of our 2018 campership awardees and the personal growth and development that each of them has achieved. Thanks to our wonderful supporters and partners, they are developing critical life and career skills including independence, responsibility, problem-solving and teamwork. Because all this takes place away from parental figures, they own their successes and failures entirely: vital for their journey towards maturity. We believe these highly relevant life, learning, and career skills can change the trajectory of their lives for the better.

Read more about the IMPACT of camp and the OUTCOMES we measure here.

Gathering Evidence for the Impact of Camp

We are convinced that kids need camp: Today, like never before, teens and pre-teens are under tremendous pressure. Self-doubt, peer pressure, and a host of other harmful influences nag at kids every day.  Even kids who enjoy a strong support structure face hurdles. Camp provides opportunities for children and young adults to pull away and catch their breath – catch a vision for the bigger picture of their lives and cultivate critical skills. They explore nature, participate in new adventures and test their limits by problem-solving, engaging in teamwork, citizenship and independent activity in a safe and healthy environment surrounded by caring and supporting adult role models. A growing body of research in youth development suggests that summer camps play an important role in the growth and development of the kids who attend. Results show that camp provides an opportunity for youth to GROW SOCIALLY, DEVELOP IMPORTANT LIFE SKILLS, and EXPERIENCE NATURE, all in a fun, hands-on setting.

We are convinced that long-term partnerships to provide long-term access to camp produces the greatest long-term impact upon the kids we serve: It is through our strength of partnerships with GREAT camps and aligned youth mentoring organizations that we can help to change the trajectory of the lives of the kids we serve.

This combination of elements, shared experiences and opportunities has a changing influence upon the kids we serve – it is the power of the camp experience, and it can last a lifetime, helping young people navigate the challenges ahead.

Measuring The Outcomes

JACF has embarked upon a multi-year outcomes-based research project to collect data from our campers and their parents or guardians to evaluate the impact of camp upon NINE specific skills that help build successful contributing members of society.

I was amazed at how much more mature and independent my son was when he came back from camp. He knows what responsibilities he needs to take care of and handles them. Learning has always been relatively difficult for my son due to his learning disabilities but this year he seems to be enjoying class more and is more interested in class. He has always been good about working in groups especially because he is the type of person to put other’s needs ahead of his own however I’ve seen a shift in the person he’s become in group settings. He used to be more of the supporter/helper but now he’s become more of a leader in group situations. I think the amount of confidence he has gained is incredible and it is helping him in so many different aspects of his life. It’s exciting seeing how he has developed and grown over the 5 years he has attended camp in a JACF Campership.

Did You Know That...

Our campers reported significant growth in the following areas as a direct result of attending camp last summer: AFFINITY FOR NATURE, PROBLEM-SOLVING and INTEREST IN EXPLORATION.

 

 

79% of our 2017 campers have reapplied to return to camp in 2018 – aiming to continue to build up the growth and development they achieved during the course of last summer.

 

We partner with NINE high-quality residential summer camps located in ARIZONA, COLORADO, MAINE, MINNEAPOLIS and WISCONSIN.

 

We partner with an increasing number of mentor-based youth development organizations across the country to help identify highly motivated low-income kids for our Campership Program.

 

We take a true partnership approach to funding this life-changing opportunity – sharing the load between ourselves, our partners and the families of the kids we serve. Everyone involved in supporting these kids’ successes is also financially invested in the process.

 

Low-income students typically have limited access to summer enrichment opportunities which causes them to fall behind academically in the early part of the school year. Our Campership Program provides motivated young people with the opportunity to reduce this phenomenon known as ‘summer slide’, enabling them to return to school with the ability to perform to their true potential, leading to increased academic success.

 

According to researchers, kids spend on average 3.5 minutes in meaningful conversation with their parents each week. At camp, caring adults, counselors and mentors help kids think through decisions and experiences in a way that will prepare them for their future. Many campers point back to the challenges and successes of their camp experiences, including the relationships they developed there and identify them as helping shape the positive direction of their lives.

   

Measuring the outcomes of attending camp is an important piece in understanding the value of the partnerships that we have established together.

Campers and their Parents Share their Stories with our Board of Trustees

At our recent Board of Trustees Retreat, seven of our 2017 Campership Awardees and their parents came to share their experiences from the summer at camp. For our Trustees, who work so hard behind the scenes, to connect in person with the people we serve, and hear first-hand their stories is a powerful and moving opportunity.

The event provided compelling words of courage, empowerment, growth, and gratitude, and fuelled our Trustees to dive into whatever work is necessary to continue to connect these great kids with these amazing summer camp opportunities.

Evidence for the Impact of the Camp Experience

Why we do what we do

Low-income students typically have limited access to summer enrichment opportunities which is known to result in them falling behind academically in the early part of the school year. JACF provides these motivated and deserving young people with the opportunity to reduce the impact of this phenomenon known as “summer slide” by sending them to a multi-week summer camp experience where they continue to learn and grow.  This enables them to return to school in the fall with the ability to perform to their true potential. By removing the financial barriers to high-quality summer enrichment, we are able to immediately influence their academic success, as well as foster highly relevant personal skills that have the potential to alter their life’s trajectory.

What camp provides

Research indicates that summer camps play an important role in the development of young people. Results show that the positive supportive environments that camps create provide young people with the opportunity to grow socially, develop important life skills (including critical workforce-relates skills), and experience nature, all in a fun, hands-on setting.

Gathering Evidence for the Impact of Camp

In collaboration with the American Camp Association (www.acacamps.org), we have embarked upon a multi-year research-based project to collect data from all of our campers and their parents or guardians. The project is designed to evaluate the impact of the summer camp program upon NINE specific skills that help build successful contributing members of society. The project is based on questionnaires that are statistically tested, specific to the summer camp program, and are age appropriate.

Measuring the outcomes of attending camp is an important piece in understanding the value of the partnership we have established together.

Our campers reported growth in the following areas as a direct result of attending camp this summer: INDEPENDENCE, TEAMWORK, PERCEIVED COMPETENCE, FRIENDSHIP, CITIZENSHIP, RESPONSIBILITY, AFFINITY FOR NATURE, INTEREST IN EXPLORATION and PROBLEM SOLVING.

Significant growth in AFFINITY FOR NATURE was expressed by 43% of our campers, while 30% told us that their PROBLEM SOLVING skills and their INTEREST IN EXPLORATION had increased significantly because of their camp experience this summer.

This year was one of the best summers I’ve ever had, it was like nothing I have experienced yet. Being a Junior Counselor was crazy…for the first week all the JCs lived together – these are my best friends, we have built camaraderie over the last five years and this year we learned more about each other than any of us thought possible. We shared about our lives, our passions, and how we want to be remembered. As JCs we had responsibilities and liberties that we had never had before at camp. As well as being authority figures in our individual lodges we had to balance work in activities with service learning projects. It was one of the most defining year I have had thus far.

Camp has caused me to act more mature because now I am a role model to younger kids around camp. I feel camp has allowed me to resolve issues more thoroughly than I would have prior to camp. I make sure that all loose ends are tied and that everyone can go home happy. I am very thankful that due to camp I can solve all my little issues and whatever larger ones come up in my life. Due to camp, I have learned how to adapt to group situations more and therefore am more effective when working with a group of my peers. At camp the entire time you are there you are placed into group situations, resulting in me developing more of an accepting personality which allows me to listen to everyone’s opinions and take them at face value and not be offended if they contradict my own beliefs.

Because of camp I feel like I am more capable as a human being. I know things that none of my other friends know, I can build a fire with my hands and I can identify different types of trees and build solid structures. Camp has definitely shown me that I am capable of more than I had thought before I went to camp.  I’ve done things I never thought I would, I’ve been put in situations where I’m not exactly comfortable and therefore I have gained knowledge about my limits and how I can break past them. I know I can be successful because overall I am more capable than I would be if I had never gone to camp.

– Kai R. (5th summer camper / 1st summer junior counselor)

   

 

Amber Martinez shared how camp has impacted her 14 year old son Dom:

I was amazed at how much more mature and independent he was when he came back from camp. He knows what responsibilities he needs to take care of and handles them. Learning has always been relatively difficult for my son due to his learning disabilities but this year he seems to be enjoying class more and is more interested in class. He has always been good about working in groups especially because he is the type of person to put other’s needs ahead of his own however I’ve seen a shift in the person he’s become in group settings. He used to be more of the supporter/helper but now he’s become more of a leader in group situations.

I think the amount of confidence he has gained is incredible and it is helping him so many different aspects of his life. It’s exciting seeing how he has developed and grown.

For more stories about How Camp Impacted Our Campers This Summer read our blog post: Nine Amazing Campers Share Their Experiences At Nine Incredible Camps

Nine Amazing Campers Share Their Experiences At Nine Incredible Camps

Summer 2017 saw JACF introduce three new associate camps, further adding to the high-quality portfolio of opportunities that we offer our campers. In this article, we hear directly from nine campers who each attended one of these nine incredible camps. They share their impressions of the impact that their camp had upon them this summer, as well as the challenges they faced and overcame.

#1: Keyla G |Ogichi Daa Kwe

Keyla is 13 years old and lives in Chicago, IL. 2017 was Kayla’s first summer as a JACF camper and she spent it on the shores of Rainy Lake, MN at Ogichi Daa Kwe.

“The biggest challenge I faced at camp was going to Canada for 10 days. I was scared at first but then a couple days past and I realized how pure and beautiful nature can be. I felt so accomplished for doing something so incredible.”

“Being without my parents made a huge impact (on me this summer). I did get a little homesick but after that past, I felt so proud. I felt so independent and accomplished. I felt like I can do things on my own and be happy with the result. Before camp, I would stay alone in my room but now I spend more time with my family. I now talk and communicate with my family more. I feel like I have become more positive and outgoing.”


#2: Paula C | Clearwater Camp For Girls

Paula is 11 years old and lives in Naperville, IL. 2017 was Paula’s 1st summer as a JACF camper and she spent it at Clearwater Camp for Girls in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

The biggest challenge for me was having to try new things. I handled this by being brave and making sure I tried everything.”

“Being in nature for a long time (had the greatest impact on me) because I’m just not used to it. When I came back home I felt more independent which was nice. I think this had the most impact on me because before camp I wasn’t really independent before.”


#3: Isabel A | Cheley Colorado Camps

Isabel is 15 years old and lives in Chicago, IL. Isabel returned to Cheley Colorado Camps in Estes Park, CO for the 3rd time this summer.

“The biggest challenge I faced at camp was being able to come to a true understanding of myself. While at camp, I came to a conclusion that I wanted to live every day in the moment and spend all of those moments with my friends because I needed to spend quality time with them. I wanted to be present and realize how I could take my camp experience and make my home life better for myself and those around me. Most importantly, I wanted to be able to impact the people around me the way that camp impacted me, and I believe that many of my friends saw that because a lot of them commented on how I was not afraid to be myself, and that makes all the difference.”

“What impacted me the most this summer, was realizing how much of a team player I was. I was in the riflery competition for my cam this year, and the girls’ team won against the guys’ team, which made me very proud. Mainly, because of how proud I was f my teammates and how we were able to come together and instill confidence within one another in order to achieve our goal.”


#4: Savian J | Colvig Silver Camps

“I think the most challenging part of this year at camp was not a specific moment but more of the whole course of camp in general. This year at camp, many of my closest and dearest friends from camp didn’t come for different reasons and it was hard for me to accept their absence and move on. I handled this struggle by focusing on the present, and making new wonderful friends that I will always remember.”

“I think the absence of familiar face impacted me the most because it opened my eyes to real change. From what I have experienced, the older you get, the more and more change you encounter, for the better or the worse. This year at camp, I learned that in life, change is constant no matter who you are so the best thing you can do is accept it, move forward, and enjoy the moment you are living in because the past is concrete and the future has infinite possibilities.”

Savian is 15 years old and lives in Colorado Springs, CO. Savian returned for his 5th summer as a JACF camper at Colvig Silver Camps on the outskirts of the San Juan National Forest, CO.


#5: E’Mari W | Camp Kawanhee For Boys

E’Mari is 10 years old and lives in Roxbury, MA. E’Mari was a 1st summer camper in 2017, spending part of his summer at Camp Kawanhee for Boys in Weld. ME.

“My cabin they showed how much fun it can be without electricity. With friends, you do not need TV.”

“Being at camp I learned what a true friend is by the way that they treat you. I learned that you do not always need an adult to help you, you can learn to do things yourself. Camp has made me want to discover and learn new thing and be curious. I now believe that anything is possible if I put my mind to it.”


#6: Barron T  | Kooch-I-Ching

At 11 years of age, Barron may be a young man of few words, but his 1st summer as a JACF camper saw him blossom at Kooch-I-Ching on Deer Island, International Falls, MN. Barron lives in Hastings, NE.

“The 7-day canoe trip was challenging. I was scared and nervous to go. There were things that weren’t comfortable like sleeping 6 campers in a tent but we did it and it was awesome.”

“The brotherhood at Camp Kooch (made the most impact on me)! I made good friends that became my family.”


 #7: Alayna M | Sanborn Western Camps

“The biggest challenge I had this summer was learning how to fit in better and to socialize more. What I mean by that is I’m a quiet girl and most people like to state their thoughts and opinions, but it’s often hard for me to know how to do that. The girls I met at camp helped me through that and would often encourage me to speak my mind and to involve myself in every single conversation. This helped me become friends with all of them and I am now better friends with girls I’ve known for 2 months than girls I’ve been friends with since Kindergarten because they helped me through so many challenges that had been troubling me for years.”

“What made the most impact on me at camp was how hard the girls there work to be friends with you, as well as how exposed you are to people there. Since you’re living with these people for a month, they discover your habits, fears, strengths, and weaknesses. As an introverted person, I don’t even share these things with my family members. However, the girls at camp were all so patient with me and so much more willing to wait for me to open up than ANYbody else that I know. Because of their patience with me, I learned that they could be trusted with facts about me that I would never tell anyone from my school (because those kids don’t have the patience with me that camp has). So, the trusting, caring personalities of the girls at camp were what made the biggest impact on me, and what made them all such better friends than anyone I’d ever met from home.”

Alayna lives in Palmer Lake, CO and is 13 years old. 2017 was her 2nd summer as a camper at Sanborn Westerns Camps’ High Trails nestled in the shadow of Pikes Peak, CO.


#8: Sydney O | Camp Thunderbird

Sydney is a 7th-grade student at Reach Prep in Stamford, CT. This summer she returned to the shores of Lake Plantagenet in Bemidji, MN to attend Camp Thunderbird.

“The biggest challenge I faced was going on my biking trip. We would be biking for a really long time and that scared me a little, but I went on the trip with confidence and I did really well.”

“The biking trip also had a big impact on me this summer because it was the first thing that really made me push myself over obstacles and complete something that was really really difficult.”


#9: Gracie S | Friendly Pines Camp

Gracie is 12 years old and lives in Phoenix, AZ. 2017 was Gracie’s first summer as a JACF camper and she spent it at Friendly Pines Camp in Arizona.

“The biggest challenge was being away from the family for 2 weeks. Once I got more comfortable I had a blast.”

“Being away from m parents and learning to be more independent made the most impact on me. I was able to make more of my own decisions and learn to do things on my own.”

Read more about the IMPACT of camp and the OUTCOMES we measure here.

A Letter From A Grateful Mother

To The John Austin Cheley Foundation,

I am writing this letter on behalf of my 17-year-old son Devin M, whom received a scholarship from the Cheley Foundation, to attend the Sanborn Camp in Colorado for the Summers of 2015 and 2016. I can honestly state that my son’s acceptance and the scholarship program has changed my son’s life for the better. His experiences there and the staff he encountered, has not only made him a more well rounded individual, but a stronger man with a love of nature, his place in it and the animals we share it with.

As a struggling single mother from the inner city of Wilmington, DE, I firmly believe that his experiences and meeting the staff and counselors at Sanborn helped shape Devin into a responsible and well adjusted young man. Without the scholarship opportunity, his summers would have been spent trying to figure out his place amongst the “undesirables”. He went to a great school and discovered ballet, but as a young Latin male with distant positive male role models in his life, I needed to expand his horizons from the little world of Delaware.

He went scared, angry, and completely insecure w/o an idea of what to encounter. His first week there was filled with trepidation, homesickness and a distrust of anything unfamiliar. After a week of letters of “please let me come home”, it went to “don’t have time to write much Mom… I am so busy with new adventures and friends.”

My son recently received a scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet School and the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in NYC. Talent obviously helped him achieve this goal but I also believe that self-esteem, inner strength, and confidence helped him achieve this as well. Sanborn gave him that. Devin knew he could accept new and difficult challenges that made him afraid but he could succeed. He learned that if he keeps his eye on the prize, he can win. He could be a leader and not a follower to achieve his dreams. He made friends at Sanborn and met men (his counselors) he could trust that had his best interest at heart.

Sanborn played an important role in my son’s development as a young man. He got to see a whole world in it’s truest and most innocent form. Horse back riding, wild water rapids, strategic games teaching teamwork and self-reliance, hiking, volunteer opportunities and more.

I wanted to write this letter to let all involved know how this has helped my son…and in return, how he has helped others. We foster dogs and help them find homes because he is aware of others needs. He has volunteered for a political party because he believes he has something to offer. He is a happier person for having made the friendships and his experiences he could only have made at Sanborn.

How do I say thank you enough to all those whom donate to Cheley and Sanborn? Words seems so futile but as they are the only words I have, please know from the bottom our hearts…

THANK YOU!!!!

Warmest and deepest appreciation and respect,

Liz M.

5 Reasons Why Every Child Should Go To Summer Camp: #3 – Take Safe Risks and Create Challenge

Teens thrive on risk. Thanks to recent findings* about the unique attributes of the teen brain, we now understand the reason for the “mortality bump” for 17-year-old boys. They do stupid, daring things not because they aren’t aware of the dangers, but because—to them—the reward of leaping from a rocky cliff or speeding along a curvy mountain road seems to far outweigh the risk. But what does this have to do with summer camp?

The answer lies in the third of our 5 reasons why EVERY child should go to summer camp:

REASON #3: Take Safe Risks and Create Challenge

A teen at camp has the opportunity to take many safe, controlled risks. Climbing to new heights on a rock wall or ropes course, jumping the wake of a boat on a wake board, or reaching the peak of a 10,000-foot summit are all healthy risks teens take at camp. Plus, being in a controlled camp environment frees teens from exposure to health risks like alcohol and drug use. Risk aversion can give rise to undesirable behavior later in life (Read our blog: ‘Perhaps the Safest Place to Make Mistakes…And Learn From Them‘).

Though the long-term consequences of risk avoidance are still not fully understood, it does seem that the ability for children to make their own decisions in free play encompasses the ability to take risks, to experiment with cause and effect (consequence). Important in this is the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them, to learn how to negotiate fear and adversity. There are lots of ways that this can be achieved, but getting kids outdoors and leaving them to their own devices is integral to the summer camp program. And the forgiving, nurturing environments created by close-knit ‘uni-cultures’ at camp are, perhaps the safest places to make mistakes…and learn from them.

Then there are the benefits of a solid, positive camp program that challenges teenagers to go outside their comfort zones, under an umbrella of support, guidance, and safety. Camp programming that challenges teens or offers ways to take true responsibility, such as in a counselor-in- training (CIT) or leader-in-training (LIT) program, are tremendous antidotes to what has been called ‘the frivolous, media-controlled world of teen culture’ (Epstein, 2014). And camp programs that give teens an opportunity to give back by performing a service for others can be equally as powerful.

Adolescence now lasts longer than ever, and the adolescent brain is surprisingly malleable. These new discoveries make this time of life crucial in determining a person’s ultimate success and happiness.

Laurence Steinberg, PhD

A strong, positive camp culture is the true ‘medicine’ for the adolescent brain: meaningful, authentic connection with caring adults; an opportunity to take healthy risks and master new skills ; and the chance to develop one’s emerging sense of self.

why-every-child-should-go-to-summer-camp-1References:

*Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence (Laurence Steinberg)

Sunshine Parenting, January 23, 2015

The Power of the Camp Experience

We are convinced that kids need camp. Today, like never before, teens and pre-teens are under tremendous pressure. Self-doubt, peer pressure, and a host of other harmful influences nag at kids every day.  Even kids who enjoy a strong support structure face hurdles. Camp provides opportunities for children and young adults to pull away and catch their breath – catch a vision for the bigger picture of their lives and cultivate critical skills. Friends and adult role models who exert positive peer pressure can make all the difference in a child’s life. Such friendships forged through shared experience and the compressed time at camp, can last a lifetime and provide a connection that helps young people navigate the challenges of life.

According to researchers, kids spend on average 3.5 minutes in meaningful conversation with their parents each week. At camp, caring adults, counselors and mentors come alongside campers, helping them think through decisions and experiences in a way that will prepare them for their future, a future that is often reimagined because of the challenges and successes the camp experience brings. Many campers point back to their experiences at camp, or a positive role model they met at camp as one who helped shape the direction of their lives.

Campers explore nature, participate in new adventures and test their limits by problem solving, engaging in teamwork, citizenship and independent activity in a safe and healthy environment surrounded by caring and supporting adult role models. This combination of elements and opportunities has a changing influence upon the kids we serve – it is the power of the camp experience.

the-power-of-camp

 

References:

http://kff.org/other/poll-finding/report-generation-m2-media-in-the-lives

http://www.ccca.org

http://www.csun.edu/science/health/docs/tv&health.html