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Steve's Story

Executive Director Steve Collins reflects on life at Camp and how the ministry makes an impact through Summer Camp, Weekend Retreats, Outdoor Environmental Education, and Challenge Course programs.

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Accidental Success

I made a mistake. The seminar I was attending sounded like it would be filled with fantastic ideas for managing a camp budget, but nothing presented seemed like it would work for us. I tried to follow along in a futile attempt to glean a few insights that would benefit South Mountain, but I felt like an amateur runner trying to keep pace with a professional marathoner. No matter how hard I tried, I kept falling further behind.

Then the seminar presenter made a brief statement that caught my ear. Pointing to the moderator at the back of the room, he said, “This approach doesn’t really apply to Matt back there because most of his campers come on scholarship.”

Two thoughts immediately went through my mind. First, this confirmed my suspicions that this presentation didn’t really fit our ministry because most of our campers are on scholarship too. The second thought was, “I want to meet Matt.”

After the seminar ended, I found Matt collecting survey responses in the back. His camp is in Pennsylvania, but, other than the geographic difference, we discovered that our camps are very similar, especially in our desire to reach impoverished children.

As we talked, Matt asked if we partner with Angel Tree. I knew about Angel Tree only in the context that they provide Christmas gifts to children whose parents are incarcerated. However, Matt explained that they also provide partial scholarships for those same children to attend summer camp. This was exciting news to me because several of our scholarship campers have incarcerated parents. Then Matt told me that Angel Tree was attending this same conference as a vendor!

I headed straight to the vendor hall and, after some searching, found the Angel Tree booth. I talked with the representatives there who confirmed that Angel Tree provides partial scholarships of $200 per camper. When I explained that our camp only charges $195 per camper, they excitedly expressed that Angel Tree would cover the full scholarship. Now we are moving forward with this partnership to get children with incarcerated parents to camp this summer!

Looking back at that seminar, I realize that I thought I made a mistake, but I was wrong. God directed me to that seminar, not to learn about camp budgets, but to connect with people who share our heart to reach hurting children. Together we can make a difference.

#summercamp #AngelTree #prisoners #incarceratedparents #scholarships

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