“I was excited for Camptown. Hiking, camping, whitewater rafting. I’ve been hiking and camping since I was eight. When I was 12 we (me and my grandpa) was on a camping trip. My grandpa had a massive heart attack. I then vowed to never go camping gain. But then I went to Camptown. By going on this trip, it reminded me how good I am at camping and how fun it was. On Monday, I automatically got picked for leader. Everybody just wanted me to be their leader. So I was the leader. We started at the twin arches and ended at Jake’s Place. On the way there, I felt like I was hiking with my grandpa again. I moved throughout the line, front, back, middle, checking to make sure everyone was okay. On Tuesday, I was scout. I ran ahead of the group to check out any obstacles. If I did see any obstacles, I went back to the group and warned them to be careful. Even when I wasn’t leader or scout, I still solved problems. Such as there was one time where we came upon a huge trunk that blocked the trail. The whole group just stood there not knowing what to do because of Poison Ivy was there too. But, I figured if I climbed onto the trunk smashed down the poison ivy so we could get by. On Thursday, after rafting, Brandon told me about the youth group and I thought maybe this shouldn’t be my last time camping.”
“It (Camptown) showed me how to cope with people who drive me nuts, but the most important thing is it showed me how to be a good leader and root people on and the feeling you have when people say you did a great job and things like that.”
“Camptown taught me how to trust God when there is trouble and how to deal with it.”
“I learned the mindset you should have throughout life. Don’t give up and do what is right.”
Camptown celebrated 20 years of serving Central Indiana Youth on March 20, 2011. During the past 20 years Camptown has provided outdoor adventure programs to more than 10,000 Central Indiana kids. Camptown is the only organization of its kind in Central Indiana and is well-recognized for its efforts. Camptown received Best Nature Outdoor Program in 2000 from the National Park and Recreation Association and received the Indiana Achievement Award in 2010 for exemplary non-profit management.
Camptown introduces area kids to the outdoors who might not have had opportunities to connect with nature. The typical participant is 11-13 years old, lives in a single-parent household and is in poverty. Programming is paid for through donations and makes an impact that is felt by the entire community. Camptown’s Pathfinder Program for troubled youth has a recidivism rate of only 19 percent.
Outdoor programs like those Camptown provides are desperately needed. Today 10 percent of children play in the wilderness, compared to 40 percent 30 years ago. Instead of being outdoors, our children average more than 7.5 hours per day using some sort of electronic screen, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
We will be marking our 20th anniversary with a series of events this year. The first is a breakfast on May 6 at Oak Hill Mansion in Carmel. President and CEO of the Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee Allison Melangton will be the featured speaker.
Last Thursday, Eric and Kristin were leading a How Wild is Your School program . They were presenting our Water Keepers module to 3-6th graders. In one class they had a boy with a learning and attention disability. During a good part of the program he seemed disengaged. So much that at one point he was pulling himself along the tops of the lab tables. The other students did not seem to pay any attention to him. While the behavior seemed odd to Eric, and it was not distracting the other students, he chose to ignore the behavior and engage the student as he could. At the end of each program we have an in depth time of review. Most of the class seemed to grasp the concepts discussed that day. Eric did not expect much from the one boy, but to his surprise he was on top of the concepts for the day. While he seemed distracted and not paying attention, in his own way he was participating and absorbing the material. Since he was not being forced to mold to a preconceived idea of how to learn, but was allowed to experience and participate in a way that worked for him, he was able to grasp the material being taught. This was yet another reinforcement of why Camptown uses hands on interactive experiences to teach youth.