As summer comes to an end, so does another year of Camp Lots-of-Fun, Family Promise’s annual two-week day camp for children ages 5-12 who have experienced homelessness. In addition to welcoming many boys and girls from our own shelter and support programs, we once again invited children from the Center for Hope and Safety and Bergen County HEARTS Program, offering a safe and memorable summer experience to even more deserving kids!
Each day was a great new adventure for our young campers, who embarked on exciting field trips to Veolia North America’s outdoor classroom in Haworth, Pony Power Therapies in Mahwah, and visits to a local pool. There was so much to do back at Camp Lots-of-Fun’s home base as well, which was at the spacious and beautiful St. Catharine Church in Glen Rock again this year.
In addition to special theme days curated by our fabulous returning Camp Director Tara Brannan, the children enjoyed activities brought onsite such as a rock-climbing wall, mobile video game truck, carnival games, a visit from Bright & Beautiful therapy dogs, and more. The hot August days called for plenty of water play and there were plenty of STEAM, literacy, and art projects that encouraged our campers’ creativity.
For the third year in a row, we offered stipends to our teen counselors for their time, providing job opportunities to teens who must earn an income during the summer months. Many of our own Family Promise Youth Council members served as counselors, forming unique bonds with our campers and ensuring that each child received the special, individual attention that they needed to thrive.
Joining Camp Director Tara, Assistant Director Vanessa Andresen and Head Counselor Margie Tomasello led our 2023 session with the support of longtime Family Promise volunteer Fran Robertson. Special thanks and appreciation to our own Emily Marques, Office Administrator extraordinaire, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that camp ran smoothly.
We are so grateful to all of the individuals, businesses, and foundations who made Camp Lots-of-Fun possible this year, including the Robert & Joan Dircks Foundation, Ellis A. Gimbel Trust, and returning sponsors Veolia North America, Visions Federal Credit Union, and Sharp Electronics USA. On the last day of camp, all of our campers received brand new backpacks and school supplies to get them ready for the year ahead, courtesy of the Mahwah Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professional Network.
A healthy and hearty breakfast and lunch were provided for our campers every day thanks to the generosity of The Glen Rock Inn, First Presbyterian of Ridgewood, Emmanuel Baptist of Ridgewood, Carner Bros., Jane Dalton, Jennifer Collado, and Geraldine Brennan.
Finally, our deep appreciation for the parishioners of St Catharine who donated almost $2,000 to camp this year! Facilitated and organized by the incomparable volunteer -and our friend – Pam Biggs, these funds were used to purchase five lunches, three breakfasts, all of the paper goods, and a lunch bag for each camper to take to school.
Thank you to everyone who supported Camp Lots-of Fun this year and for helping to give our campers a summer they will never forget!