If you are looking for where to send your year-end donation, I hope you will consider Sherwood Forest Camp.
I first met Mary Rogers when I was walking through Brady Commons at Mizzou in 1988. She was sitting next to a sign for Sherwood Forest Camp, and was recruiting college students to spend the summer in Lesterville, MO helping low-income kids reach their potential.
I ended up spending 3 summers at SFC, and those long days shaped the adult I was to become.
While the camp never left my heart, I got busy with my life and lost touch with my camp friends. A couple of years ago, Facebook came to the rescue. Shortly after signing up for Facebook, I found the camp page, then posted a staff picture from 1989 and watched in amazement as people started tagging each other. I ended up joining the Alumni Association board and getting involved again. Twenty years after working at camp, I went back in 2010 as a volunteer for 4 days with SFC’s youngest campers.
The following year, I went back again, this time staying for the full 5 day session of Mini Camp and spending my days & nights with 66 boys & girls who are 7-8 years old.
As one of the camp cruisers, I floated around, helping wherever I was needed. I reassured the kids as they said goodbye to their parents and climbed on the bus, getting to know many of them as we made the 2 1/2 hour drive to Lesterville. I helped them tie-dye shirts, cook hot dogs in the woods and cheered on dozens of kids when they said “look at me” in the swimming pool.
It was exhausting, and it was exhilarating.
Watching children try new things, learn to work as a team to accomplish goals and talk through conflicts with their cabinmates was worth putting up with 100+ degree heat without air conditioning and coming home covered in bug bites.
While the kids go to camp simply to have fun, the hidden agenda is to break the cycle of poverty. Children can start coming to camp after 1st grade, and can spend the next 10 summers growing up at camp. They can complete a 4 summer leadership program that includes an 8-day 75 mile river trip, volunteer service and college tours. They are exposed to college student role models and encouraged to continue their education beyond high school.
Over 80% of our kids come from families living at or below the poverty line. Sherwood Forest provides comprehensive, year-round, year-after-year enrichment programs that many of our families could otherwise not afford.
The supportive, stable environment provided by Sherwood Forest has a long-term impact: 100% of young people who complete its Leadership Training Program go on to graduate from high school. Over the last 35 years, three-quarters of the Leadership Program alumni have gotten back in touch with Sherwood Forest, and 94% are now living economically self-sufficient lives. This creates a stronger community for all of us.
Here are a few of my pictures from my last session volunteering at Sherwood Forest. Due to privacy issues, I can’t show you pictures with kids faces. I wish I could, because you would see the same sparkle I see when I look at them.
Climbing Tango Tower
I hope you’ll take a moment to watch this video and learn more about Sherwood Forest Camp.
Please consider making a donation. Every bit helps.