This past summer, 14 summer camps in the Northeast region offered camp scholarships to 37 Burmese refugee children from Albany.
The idea to reach out to summer camps about providing Burmese Refugee children living in Albany with a summer camp experience started with Neal Andrews, a resident of Mechanicville, who is working with Mission on Our Doorsteps, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to assisting Burmese Refugees. Years ago, he answered an advertisement to help refugees from around the world resettle in America. He was then assigned a family of seven from Burma relocated to Albany.
In 2009, the first summer working with this family, he approached the parents and told them that in America, many parents send their children to summer camp and went on to explain the benefits of camp for their children. In 2010, Andrews set out to find more camps that would offer children scholarships. This year, he partnered with 14 summer camps to place 37 Burmese Refugee children, ages 7-16 into summer camps in New York and Connecticut, including: Brant Lake Camp in Brant Lake; Camp Southwoods in Paradox; Pack Forest Camp in Warrensburg; and Camp Chingachgook in Kattskill Bay.
Andrews, a former camper himself for many years, knows the value of summer camp and recognized that getting these children out of the inner city cramped apartments they lived in and sending them to summer camp, could be life changing for them.
Now that camp is over, Andrews is preparing to send letters out to summer camps inquiring about camperships for more refugee children from Burma.
“I went to summer camp as a child and the experience shaped who I am today,” he said. “Over the past three years, I have watched these children come back from camp knowing how to swim, speaking English after knowing none and returning with a new sense of confidence they didn’t have. Camp has exposed them to so much that will help them assimilate into life in Albany and to have the life skills needed to become successful adults.”
For more information, please contact Jess Michaels at the American Camp Association, NY and NJ at (212) 391-5208, x1015 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.