Aug 22California Celebrates Another Sunny Summer of Camp Mercy
On the day Camp Mercy was scheduled to end at Caroline Severance Manor in Los Angeles this summer, the campers weren’t having it.
“We were technically scheduled to wrap up our summer camp programming earlier,” said Albert Mendez, Resident Services Coordinator. “But school hadn’t started yet, the kids all wanted to keep going, and everyone was having a great time – so I said, why not, let’s extend camp for two weeks.”
Unlike a traditional summer camp, where families would be unlikely to experience that kind of flexibility, Camp Mercy brings a completely free-of-charge day camp experience to young people living in Mercy Housing California (MHC) residences, right inside their own buildings. Mercy Housing’s onsite resident services staff facilitated camp programming, accompanied at some properties by an all-star cast of volunteers. This year, more than 400 young participants throughout the state enjoyed such activities as yoga, tie-dye, dodgeball, science experiments, making ice cream, and finding new friends.
“These kids have built relationships that they didn’t have prior to camp,” said Albert. “Even on days that we didn’t have camp, I’d have kids come down to our community room asking if they could do activities together, and then they would say – ‘where’s this kid? Can they play with us today? Can you call their parents and ask if they can come down here for a little bit?’”
Up north, at Village Park in Sacramento, Resident Services Coordinator Mai Yang noted what a difference Camp Mercy had made for participants’ parents. “I had one parent who was concerned her kid might have a hard time at Camp, but when she saw how focused we were on being inclusive, she pulled me aside and said, ‘Thank you – I was so worried he wouldn’t be treated like everyone else,’” recalled Mai. “Another mom just gave me a big smile and said, ‘Mai, I’m so glad you got my kids out of the house!’”
While growing up with a pack of neighbors as playmates might be a thing of the past for many young people, the tradition is alive and well at Mercy Housing communities. “Any time the kids get to hang out together, it’s always fun,” said Albert. “Every day we had camp, you could hear the giggles and laughs coming out of the community room door. I know that they truly enjoyed it.”
Mercy Housing thanks all Camp Mercy donors, with our extra-special gratitude to the Mercy Foundation, who, with a significant grant thanks to their donors, brought countless days of Camp Mercy fun and learning to young people in the Sacramento region.
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