The families of most of our campers have significant financial strains so Camp David’s team works year round to find sponsors for the campers to help make it possible for them to come to camp.
We invite them!
We receive the names and addresses of children with incarcerated parents through Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree program. We then send the children invitations to camp. Some families also learn about Camp David through Big Brothers, Big Sisters in St. Louis, social workers, and their public school counselors.
We bring them...
Local churches partner with us to provide transportation to and from camp at pick up spots near the camper’s homes. Most of our campers wouldn’t make it to camp if it wasn’t for the help of these churches.
Angel Tree provides backpacks and Bibles and local churches fill each backpack with a tooth brush, soap, a flashlight, and other things they will need for camp.
2:1 Camper to Counselor Ratio
We work to have one counselor for every two children. This makes it possible for each child to receive the individual attention and care they need; whether it is helping her deal with painful emotions, teaching him how to throw a football, or listening to her talk about her dad as you do her hair. Most of our campers are high-maintenance kids and our counselors and staff stay very engaged taking care of the campers even with this small camper/counselor ratio.
We are so committed to having a good time at camp that we have our own Camper/ Counselor Coach. The coach meets with the counselors daily to go over problems, give suggestions, and coach the counselors in becoming the best counselors they can be. The coach also helps campers and their teams resolve conflicts, talk about problems, and learn to work together.
Camp grandparents fill special role here at camp. They affirm the campers when they do well in an activity and encourage them when they struggle. They write letters to campers, read the teams bed time stories to wind down at night, and are just there for anyone who needs a listening ear.
Practical Bible Lessons
We believe the Bible is full of answers for our everyday life situations. Through talks, small group discussions, and skits, we talk about what the Bible says about love, hate, sex, lying, shame, friends, and a whole lot more. Campers are also encouraged to memorize Bible verses and the Ten Commandments.
Laughter & Singing
At Camp David we make sure our campers have lots of opportunities to laugh, sing songs, and play silly games. A lot of our campers have had to grow up too fast and have been robbed of the fun and laughter in childhood. Camp is one week they can sing, laugh, dance and be silly and the change on their faces is priceless.
Petting Zoo & Horse Program
We have a petting zoo because most kids just love animals! We have also found the animals to be very therapeutic. Often the campers who have experienced abuse and neglect find it difficult to trust adults or receive a hug. We find holding and petting an animal often helps them past times of sadness and helps them get back into having fun at camp. The horse program helps campers to overcome fear, and build confidence.
Boys will be boys and ...
Boys want to be respected and know that they have what it takes to be a man. Girls want to know they are beautiful and loveable. So naturally our weeks are different too! Boy’s week is fast, active, and physical. We get dirty and play hard with the guys. Girl’s week is much slower, as the girls like to fix hair, do cheers, pick flowers, and talk and talk... By separating the boy’s and girl’s camps we are able to better meet the unique needs of each camper.
Everybody’s Birthday Party
Some campers, because of their unstable homes, being in foster care, or other reasons, have often had their birthdays forgotten. At camp we have an birthday party for everyone complete with cake, ice-cream, balloons and gifts. This is just one more way we say to the kids- we are glad you were born, you are special.
Here campers get to taste green beans they picked in the garden, see a nest full of speckled bird’s eggs, listen to a cricket chirp, smell a mint leaf, and feel fossilized wood. We talk about how God created each living thing to do what it does very well, including each of them.
Something to remember
To help keep the camper’s happy memories alive we send them home with a journal /photo album with pictures of them at camp, a theme shirt, and a water bottle with the camp theme and verse on it. Some of our campers have photo albums from 5-6 years at camp!