Camp Aldersgate receives Community Partnership Award
January 03, 2017
This past November, Camp Aldersgate was invited to the Rhode Island State House to receive the Community Partnership Award for their work with Adopt Rhode Island, the state Department of Children and Youth Services, and foster programs.
Ever since camp Director Jenn Becker Carpenter arrived 10 years ago, the camp has worked to strengthen its connection with these programs. As Carpenter states, this partnership has been bolstered over the past five to six years, and it is now at the point where the camp is able to offer $30,000 in “Camperships” each year.
Along with the valuable scholarships, the staff has improved conditions and made accommodations that aid the campers coming from a foster or adoption program.
They’ve become more aware of how even simple changes in wording can make a camper feel more comfortable. For example, it has become important to define “family” in a new way when working with kids without a mother and father. It is important to grow as a staff and a community, Carpenter states, that is encompassing of a broader spectrum of “family” backgrounds.
Camp Aldersgate’s programs are further strengthened as previous foster campers become counselors and leaders. These young adults understand what the younger campers are going through, and are able to make camp an even better experience for them. For these disadvantaged youth, camp is an important constant in their lives, Carpenter said.
“We were really trying to create a space for campers that really felt like a home,” says Carpenter.
Aldersgate provides a church family and strengthened community that these children may not experience in their everyday lives, Carpenter said. Being at camp helps them to feel God’s unconditional love. This award is validation of that vision, she said, demonstrating that the work Aldersgate is doing is making a difference.
Plans for the future
With the acknowledgement and support this award provides, Aldersgate hopes to launch a new camp that would offer siblings separated by the foster system a chance to come together. This “sibling camp” is still in its early stages of planning, but Carpenter feels optimistic that the program could be ready this summer.
It is hoped that the new program will continue to grow the camp's role in these children’s lives, as a second home and a safe place that they can trust will be there each summer, Carpenter said.
Evan Robinson-Johnson, a high school junior, is working as a reporting and photography volunteer for the New England Conference Communications Office.