Even during a pandemic and climate of uncertainty, TCP Charity continues to bring new programs to local youth.
This past July TCP Charity launched the YE Summer Camp for local middle and high school youth. Continuing their model of connecting teens to the workforce, taking them on a self-growth journey, and encouraging community service, we added a STEM component to our summer camp to bring more hands-on learning activities.
One thing that we preach to our students on a regular basis is that they must become comfortable stepping out of their comfort zones and taking on new learning opportunities, so it only made sense that we practice what we preach.
From July 12-23, 27 middle and high school teens from Anne Arundel County participated in the first ever YE Summer Camp. After a school year that left most students learning from home the entire year, we had no idea what to expect in terms of a turnout for campers. To our surprise, we found that parents and teens alike were looking for in-person camps and were excited about the opportunity to connect with their peers.
To keep things simple, we decided to offer two one-week camps, one in Glen Burnie at Abundant Life Church, and the other in Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Park Middle School, and offered similar activities to those that our after-school program (internal link) students participate in. But keeping things simple isn’t what were all about, we love to challenge ourselves knowing that in the end we will learn something new.
To step further out of our comfort zone and challenge ourselves, we added a math portion to the daily agenda that focused on algebra and statistics and a STEM component that gave students the opportunity to build various STEM kits. We found that the campers really enjoyed these two parts of the camp, although when we told them they were going to do some math they were not overly excited. What got them really engaged and enjoying the math was turning it into a competition along with allowing the students to teach each other.
Being connected to the community and seeking out ways to serve is key to being a leader and one thing that we always reinforce with our students, so another aspect of the camp that we had never done before was take our teens to local nonprofits for them to serve for a few hours. The first week, campers visited Hope for All for two hours where they sorted, folded and categorized clothes, sorted and put together silverware/utensil bags, and stuffed over 200 hygiene bags.
The second week of camp brought campers the opportunity to serve the Oyster Recovery Partnership by building ten oyster cages that would soon become oyster farms in the local Severn River. The students also came up with the idea of doing some gardening around Abundant Life Church to make the outside of the church more appealing.
The best part about these field trips was hearing Jaz say, “It felt really good knowing that I did something today that will impact the lives of another family.” and Juliana say, “I wish I could do things like this more often.”
After two weeks of camp, we learned a whole lot! We certainly left knowing how and where we can improve but we also left knowing that the two weeks were a huge success and steppingstone for us. All-in-all, 90% of campers said they feel more confident in statistics, they have a greater understanding of who they are, and they would return next summer. For us, that is all we needed to hear to know!
To continue to momentum, we have created not only will we be offering our summer camp in 2022, but we will be offering multiple two-week camps in summer 2022. Keep an eye out for when registration opens in February/March.
To keep some things in line with the unique opportunities our programs provide, student had the pleasure of going on field trips to learn about architecture and construction. The first week campers got to visit L2M Architects in Glen Burnie where they learned to design their own two car garage on Sketch Up. The second week campers got to visit Gilbane construction at the Morgan State University campus where they learned about the construction process of a brand-new residence hall Gilbane is constructing. They also got to build Little Red Pantries with Gilbane employees that were donated to The Caring Cupboard.