Every year, summer brings excitement and challenges to families across the area. For some, summer brings open air, daily freedoms, and time to explore. For others, summer means challenges: childcare, higher power bills, increased grocery needs, and more.
A local partnership helps address the challenges facing families while connecting children to summer adventures. Wayfinders, formerly known as the Bruce Irons Camp Fund, identifies families in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area for mentorships, summer camp scholarships, and year-round enrichment. Students are selected as rising 5th graders and remain in the program for 5 consecutive years. Wayfinders scholars are referred by Communities in Schools personnel, must come from a low-income family, attend a CMS school, and demonstrate strong academic effort, leadership potential, and good citizenship.
If you’ve ever sent a child to overnight camp, you’ve seen the mile-long packing list. Purchasing all those things can be a barrier to summer camp for families who may already be struggling to make ends meet. Enter Crisis Assistance Ministry’s Free Store, where families shop free-of-charge for linens, towels, sunscreen, swimsuits, sweatshirts, and all the essentials for a summer of adventure in the North Carolina mountains.
Gregory, a rising 5th grader, is a new scholar headed to Gwynn Valley Camp in Brevard, NC. After a long year of enjoying math class and dreading language arts, Gregory is excited about the trip. Without camp, he would be spending the summer at his grandma’s house with his three other siblings. He says it can be a bit hectic with that many people together all the time, so he can’t wait to be on his own with new friends.
His mom, Amber, is also excited for him to have an experience that’s all his own. She hopes he will gain self-confidence and make new friends while enjoying the mountain air. Armed with new jeans, shirts, a blanket and sleeping bag, Gregory can’t wait to slip on the Air Jordans he found in the store!
In just one afternoon, more than 20 families shopped free-of-charge for items on their camp packing list. As they head off to camp this month, they have community partnerships to thank for the opportunity to escape city life, try new things, and gain new skills.