BALTIMORE — Camp St. Vincent, Baltimore’s only summer camp that exclusively serves homeless children, ended its season with a carnival for the children and their families on Friday, August 16, 2013 at Patterson Park in Baltimore City.
Both campers and parents enjoyed outdoor games, a moonbounce, balloon art, face painting, snowballs, cotton candy, and a BBQ lunch at the carnival. The children also performed a dance and skit for their parents, counselors and staff.
“This is a very rewarding experience for me to coordinate this [camp]. The program is an eight week all inclusive summer camp for kids or families who are either homeless or are in transitional housing from Baltimore City and Baltimore County,” said Vena Carter, director of Camp St. Vincent. “We have arts and crafts, and a theater [program conducted] by Creative Alliance; dance by Underground Dance Studio; science by the Carrie Murray Nature Center, and field trips which we keep as a surprise. They have gone roller-skating and bowling. We have taken them to Washington, D.C. to the national museums, the zoo, and a really fun trip to Dave and Busters.”
Carter went on to say, “I have a wonderful staff of 12 volunteers that lead the instruction and assist with coordinating all activities. Without the support from our public and private donors this would not be possible, we also have people that drop things off who want this camp to be successful, such as snacks, or a box of tennis shoes, or school supplies. This camp is a one of a kind in the city and we work hard to make sure that the population we serve has a good summer.”
Along with traditional camp experiences such as swimming, arts, athletics and music, Camp St. Vincent offers a structured reading and math curriculum, psycho-social groups, and cultural enrichment activities. Within the safety and support of a therapeutic environment, children are able to develop positive trusting relationships with adults, who assist them in maintaining grade-appropriate academic performance, developing social competence and problem solving skills, strengthening autonomy, and ultimately gain a sense of purpose.
“I am here with my twin daughters, Sophia and Sahara, who attended the St. Vincent camp this summer, because we are currently homeless and staying at the Knight of Pea shelter, I really appreciated the camp. It gave me an opportunity to look for housing during the day and not worry about where my children were. They took good care of them and taught them a lot. Unfortunately, its only for the homeless people, and they will not be back next year, but I really enjoyed and appreciated having them at the camp this year, ” said Sonjia Gordon, mother of two children who attended Camp St. Vincent this summer.
St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore works to ensure that individuals and families in our community have the resources and opportunity to care for themselves and to build a better future. We are proud to be a United Way Impact Partner and to be recognized by Maryland Nonprofits with the Seal of Excellence for maintaining the highest standards of ethics and accountability in nonprofit governance, management, and operations.