TEN CAMPS AWARDED FUNDING TO SUPPORT ACCESS FOR CAMPERS
September 29, 2023

Ten Camps Awarded Funding To Support Access For Campers

By Liz Curfman, Program Associate

“In His hand are the depths of the Earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.” – Psalm 95:4-6

As we head into fall, we are still thinking about summer over here…especially because of the photos we are seeing from camps held May-August! In 2023, The Rees-Jones Foundation granted scholarships to ten Christian camps, three of which were overnight camps and seven which were camps for children with disabilities: Kids Across America, Presbyterian Camps at Gilmont, Sky Ranch, Camp Oasis, Camp Reynal, Camp Summit, Camp Sweeney, Camp Tesoro de la Vida, Lighthouse for the Blind Fort Worth, and Joni and Friends Texas.

Why camps? Before we answer that, we first have to ask a few other questions of our own: What do you enjoy doing when you’re outside? Is it playing games with friends? Is it taking in the fresh air or the beautiful scenery? Or is it slowing down to spend time with loved ones? No matter what you enjoy outside, nature can provide us with the chance to connect with the character of God. Through the vastness of a forest and the creatures that call it home, we get to know an awesome God who is a provider. In the delicate details of a leaf, we can tangibly see a thoughtful God who shows us the seasonality of life. Furthermore, multiple Bible stories and Jesus’ parables reference nature: the burning bush, living waters, the care and provision of the birds of the field, and Jesus as a vine. This connection with nature is foundational to a Christian life, and can provide much needed perspective away from the hustle and bustle of life in the city environment. Many North Texas children have not had the opportunity to get away into nature and explore this reality.

The Rees-Jones Foundation believes that children thrive when they have the opportunity to enjoy formative and life changing experiences that broaden their horizons and help build character. Spending time in nature with a camping experience where they are growing closer to their Creator is one of those specific ways we most see children grow mentally, spiritually, and relationally. Since 2007, The Rees-Jones Foundation has provided funding to Christian camps to subsidize the cost of camping fees for children to attend camp who would not have been able to otherwise, due to lack of financial resources or developmental and physical disabilities.

Research has shown that overnight camping experiences, in particular, provide children with increased self-confidence and independence, an opportunity to develop new skills, time away from screens and electronics, and an understanding of personal responsibility [1]. There have been additional findings that physical activity in nature can benefit children’s mental health, and lead to a decrease in anxiety [2]. Additionally, at Christian camps, students have a chance to understand their faith, learn more about God, develop a more in-depth relationship with Jesus, have positive relationships with fellow Christians including peers and adults, and even have an opportunity to know Jesus as their Savior for the very first time.

For children with physical or cognitive disabilities, attending camp often feels only like a dream. However, thanks to nonprofit organizations across Texas who have innovated to host camps specifically for children with specific needs, camp experiences no longer have to feel out of reach. With settings that include safety modifications, dietary restrictions, and outdoor activities that focus on ability rather than limitations, children of all backgrounds can play, learn, and enjoy in the outdoors with their peers.

The Rees-Jones Foundation provides camping opportunities for children in North Texas to be able to enjoy new opportunities, build positive adult relationships, and learn more about a God who loves them over the course of a camping session. We know that when we innovate and partner together, we believe children will have better opportunities to thrive, enjoy safe relationships, and learn how loved they are by God.

 

[1] https://health.usnews.com/wellness/for-parents/articles/2017-04-07/8-reasons-to-consider-sending-your-kids-to-sleepaway-camp

[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28694788/#:~:text=Analysis%20via%20Multivariate%20ANOVA%20indicated,were%20not%20evident%20for%20wellbeing.



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