On December 1 every year, we recognize World AIDS Day. Today I want to talk about an organization that is close to my heart. It has changed who I am today. It lead me to become a teacher so I could work with kids year round. It is a part of me. Camp Amerikids is a part of The ELM Project. The mission of the camp is to provide a week-long residential camp experience for children in our area who are living with HIV and Sickle Cell Disease. The program is completely free of charge for the campers. As you think about the impact that HIV/AIDS has had on the world, please consider what you can do to get involved. Donating your time is free, and bound to change everyone’s world for the better. -Abby
Last year I wrote a post for FCMB in honor of World AIDS Day about why I love to be a counselor at Camp Amerikids. I spoke about the impact that it has on my family and why I still think it’s worth it all to go to a place I love so much. This year, to honor World AIDS Day and those we have lost, I want to take some time to introduce you to another mother, Ms. Goins. She is a NYC mother of three campers (past and present) at Camp Amerikids; Jasmine (18), Malida (19) and Ty-Talette (16). She spoke to me recently about the impact that camp had on her daughters, and how it made her job as a mom just a little bit easier after they brought home essential life lessons from camp. Below are some of the highlights from my interview:
How long have you sent your kids to Camp Amerikids, and what are some of the changes that you have seen in your kids since they started going to camp? My girls have been going to camp for at least 10 years. The number one thing that they have learned is responsibility. They learned how to be young adults.
How does it feel to let your children go for a week? I was nervous at first. It’s hard but you have to do it. You have to pray and realize that they will remember what you taught them. The Camp Director and counselors made me feel at home and safe, though, and I got over my fears. They learned a lot in 7 days, and after that I wasn’t nervous to send them again. Later, I started to look forward to the time for myself. Then, when we all come back together, I hear the stories about the week and about their friends.
What is it that makes you want to send them back every year? The personal touch, the caring, and they get to know the parents so they know how to treat your children. They know each child individually. They taught them to follow rules, which my girls brought back home. I am involved; I know the Director and staff. Plus, the girls have lifelong friends now.
Having been a camp mom for so long what would you tell other parents about letting their kids go to camp? Send the child because the child will learn new things. They’re making lifelong friends. They’re taught to take simple things and make something out of it. They learn group work, team work, respect for each other and adults. It shows, especially with my middle daughter. She has grown up, she knows what is right and what is wrong.
Anything else you want to add about the benefits of sending your kids to camp? I didn’t go to camp as a child but I enjoy it as an adult. You have people that care. They will pass on that love to their families. We (parents) will not always be there for them but the friendships they made at camp will be.
My conversation with Ms. Goins reminded me that as moms, we all just want what is best for our children. We want them to have good manners, do well in school, make friends, have fun and be strong. When you find a way to reach your kids and allow them to truly flourish and grow, the outcome is magical.