For the third year, Brightspot has partnered with the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington to provide low-income families the opportunity to send their children to overnight camp at Camp Letts in Edgewater, Maryland.
This relationship began in 2013, when we provided 10 children the opportunity to attend camp for one week. Later that summer, I was invited to spend the day at Camp Letts. After watching the kids joyfully playing outdoors, hearing the impactful stories from counselors, and learning more about the camp’s mission, I was hooked!
This year, our commitment has expanded to provide 15 children to attend a two-week session and 20 to attend a one-week session. For most of the kids, this experience is their first trip away from home, and, in many cases, their first opportunity to truly explore the outdoors. As Andrew Mason, Camp Letts’ Executive Director, explained to me during my visit, “At camp, they are able to leave the stresses of their lives behind and simply be kids.”
Detached from cell phones, tablets, and computers, the children are challenged to do three things during their time at Camp Letts – learn a new skill, make a new friend, and take a new risk. These life lessons, which all of us can take to heart, serve them well not only during their time at camp, but also when they return home.
Last year, we heard back from several campers and parents. The most touching story came from a mom, whose daughter had been the target of non-stop bullying throughout the school year. The mom was hesitant to send her daughter away, but ultimately decided it was a chance for her to grow. After two weeks at camp, the young girl returned home with renewed self-confidence and lasting friendships.
Whether a camper leaves with a life-changing experience or simply spends a week with a smile stretching from ear to ear, Camp Letts and the YMCA are making an impact and we are proud to join them in this effort.
We believe that every child deserves the chance to experience the joy, wonder, and freedom of the outdoors. As summer nears, we look forward to hearing the stories of zip-lining, camp fires, songs, discovery, and exploration from our 35 campers, who will soon experience that opportunity.