Youth Haven Camp Offers A Return to “Togetherness”

Due to COVID-19, our Youth Development and Wellness (YDW) department provided virtual education and camps throughout 2020. Youth Haven Camp and Retreats, one of the longest-running YDW programs, returned to in-person scheduling this summer. Youth Haven Camp welcomes youth ages 7-16 years old annually.  In July, YDW welcomed back families at two locations: The Salvation Army Sherman Avenue Corps in Northwest D.C. for five weeks of in-person/virtual daytime events, and for a week-long in-person overnight camp at Mar-Lu-Ridge Camp & Retreat Center in Jefferson, Maryland. 

This year’s camp focused on developing leadership skills, teaching healthy habits for the mind and body including stress management, and creating life-long peer connections while enjoying the great outdoors. Twenty-four youth experienced rock climbing, hiking to Shock Rock, arts and crafts, community building exercises, skills workshops and team-building obstacle courses all while following  COVID-precautions.

“After being indoors for so long, I wanted her  [Lily] to… get some fresh air and have some social interactions with other kids. But, I was worried about sending my daughter to a camp not only [be]cause of COVID-19, and the risk it puts me in because of my illness but because it would also be her first time at an overnight camp …,” said Ms. Kearra, Lily’s mom.  Ms. Kearra’s comments reflect the hesitation many parents felt due to COVID, but also their desire for their children to enjoy nature.

Camp counselors also noticed the impact of COVID-19. In the beginning of camp, campers had a tough time interacting with other kids their age, especially since most young people had been out of school for nearly 18 months. However, this led to teachable moments and opportunities to learn problem-solving, communication, and conflict resolution skills through games and other camp activities.

Thanks to the support of the United Planning Organization (UPO), the George Preston Marshall Foundation, and Broadway Cares, Youth Development and Wellness (YDW) hosted incredible day and overnight camps for children this past summer.  YDW is also especially grateful for Kehila Chadasha’s art supplies donation. A special thank you also goes to our host sites for maintaining the highest level of COVID-19 safety precautions and sanitization during our stay. Thank you also to the Shaw (Watha T. Daniel) Neighborhood Library for ensuring all campers were tested for COVID-19 before camp started.

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