Remember the first time you went camping? If you're like me, you have some great memories and stories about that first!
As an elementary education graduate from Indiana University, I've got a dream job. It's a job that allows me to help create such memories for children at Happy Hollow Children's Camp in Brown County.
I'm the camper recruitment coordinator for Happy Hollow, a United Way agency. Since 1951, Happy Hollow has welcomed more than 33,000 economically disadvantaged and special needs children to a camp experience full of learning and adventure.
I'm a teacher who traded a 15' X 15' classroom for an 800-acre classroom! It's a place where children ages 7 to 14 learn while playing, and where they develop a love for the natural world around them. They also begin to see new possibilities for themselves, while in a safe place with caring adults.
Each summer, our camp serves more than 800 kids. As one of the only residential camps in Indiana that focuses on economically challenged children, we help families provide opportunities that they can not otherwise not afford for their children.
Because you give to United Way, I want you to know the difference you are making for these children. In my 11 years at Happy Hollow, I've met hundreds of grateful families. Let me tell you about one.
Last spring, I received a call from a mother who was interested in sending her daughter to Happy Hollow. Because we know that 94 percent of the children at Happy Hollow qualify for free and reduced lunch at school, her story is not unlike the story of hundreds of other campers.
Mom had just lost her job and was unable to keep her car. She had to move to a rough part of town. Because mom was not comfortable letting her daughter play outside, she was restricted to playing in their apartment while mom looked for work.
Thanks to those who contribute to United Way, this young lady was able to enjoy a week of camp that was otherwise not in the budget. Like 80 percent of our campers, this young woman was from a single-parent home.
At the beginning of the week she was extremely shy and had a difficult time meeting new friends in her cabin. With a little patience and listening, her counselor helped her break out of her shell.
On the second night the camper confided in her counselor that she was worried about her mom, and wanted to be there for her during her job search. With some reassurance from the staff, this young lady was fully involved in all activities by the end of the week and had developed new friendships with her cabin mates.
Two weeks later, the camper's mother called to thank us. Mom said that since her daughter got off the camp bus she'd been telling camp stories and is eager to come back.
Through the camping experience her daughter showed improvements in her confidence, friendship making, fitness and overall energy level.
Most importantly, she was thankful that we provided a safe and supportive place where her daughter could just be a kid.
--Chris Chappell, Camper Recruitment Coordinator, Happy Hollow Children's Camp
United Way's Agency Services staff was lucky enough to spend a day at Happy Hollow in July 2011. Check out the pictures here.
Since 1958, UWCI has invested more than $5.2 million helping Happy Hollow Children’s Camp stimulate the social, mental, spiritual and physical growth in boys and girls through the challenging outdoor living and learning setting of its residential summer camp in Brown County. This funding includes nearly $940,000 from United Way’s Capital Projects Fund, nearly $340,000 from the Facilities Maintenance Fund, and $39,000 from the Technology Fund. (These were funded with monies contributed specifically for these needs and do not come from the annual campaign.) For the 2011-12 funding year, the agency’s United Way Community Fund allocation is $80,169.