Mentoring doesn’t take a summer vacation. Across the state of South Carolina, Restoration Project Foundation Mentor Partner Organizations continued their important work supporting students in their communities, with many hosting summer camps to make the most of their mentee's additional time and availability. From traditional outdoor activities and athletic competitions to field trips and community service events, RPF Mentor Partner Organization camps provided a wide range of exciting options. While activities, ages, and locations varied greatly across organizations, all of the camps were united in the same goal of providing their mentees with meaningful opportunities to grow and thrive. “Kids need more than food and water and shelter to survive,” explained Megan Tice of Real Champions, Inc., “they need experience, exploration, and a safe environment to do that in, and that is why summer camp is so important.”
Providing mentees with opportunities for experience and exploration in a safe environment was a primary component of all RPF Mentor Partner Organization camps. While mentoring field trips certainly take place during the school year, relaxed summer schedules make it easier to focus a full day or series of days on visits to new locations. Real Champions summer camp mentors beautifully balanced activities that contribute to academic success, like story time, arts and crafts, and science experiments, with opportunities for adventure. “Since it was summer, we had the freedom to take the children on excursions and let them play, explore, breathe, and learn just by being kids,” said Megan Tice. “Whether it was a big trip to the zoo or a small trip to get ice cream and then hike at the local park, it was amazing what kids noticed and learned just by being listened to by their mentors.”
Excursions also offered opportunities for educational engagement, which was a primary focus for Mentor Partner Original Design. Mentors and mentees spent time together discussing the importance of education, working hard in school, and trying their best. They then put their skills to work on a tour of the South Carolina Statehouse where students asked lots of questions and learned fun historical facts. “I thought our campers took the skill session on education very seriously and learned a lot,” said Original Design Executive Director Jay Urich.“It blessed me to see the campers and their mentors interact and have so much fun.” Their trip ended with a visit to the University of South Carolina, which included a discussion with Jay and mentor MJ about their experiences as USC football players. Original Design mentees are still several years away from college, but being able to visit the USC campus and hear about real-life experiences from their mentors helped them think about options for the future in a very concrete way.
Paving the way to the future was a major component of New Hope Leadership Academy’s Summer Leadership Program. Mentees had valuable opportunities to put their leadership skills into action by creating and implementing student-led service projects that addressed specific needs in their schools and communities. Project management, decision-making, and teamwork were all primary areas of focus, as was making sure mentees had opportunities to be exposed to new places and ideas. “We want everybody to understand how to get along, work with each other, help each other, and support each other,” said New Hope’s Executive Director Demond Logan, “and a big part of the community service is helping mentees understand that everybody lives a little differently from each other.” New Hope also offered a series of Career Guidance and Planning Workshops centered around career exploration, resume building, professional writing and communication, work attire, and more. Rounding out the experience were field trips to South Carolina colleges and universities focused on providing mentees with valuable exposure to new ideas and options for the future.
Proverbs Mentoring Organization’s Camp Proverbs and Camp Essence enjoyed a non-stop summer of camp engagements focused on leadership activities, athletics, community service, college tours, and inspirational speakers. For Executive Director Don Peppers, one of the most important components of summer camp is having the ability to engage in faith based-mentoring by incorporating gospels that can help guide the way for mentees. “Being able to bring in mentors and speakers who can show how their faith helps them be positive men in their communities is a vital component of summer camp,” explained Don. Helping each mentee establish a Summer Growth Plan is also a major focus of Camp Proverbs and Camp Essence.
“We work with them to be intentional about having goals that they could attack every day with measurable results,” said Don. “I can’t plant a seed in the ground and just expect it to grow to its fullest potential, it has to be done with an intent to nurture the growth. And if they are going to be intentional in their growth, I’m going to do it too because we are never finished growing.”
Summer camp just wouldn’t be summer camp without lots of fun activities. From Real Champions roller rink adventure and Original Design’s water Olympics to New Hope’s hair braiding workshop to Camp Proverbs and Camp Essence’s combined canoe cruise, RPF Mentor Partner Organization summer camps definitely delivered. We’ve included several of our favorite camp highlights below for your reading enjoyment, and encourage you to visit https://www.restorationprojectfoundation.org to see how you can get involved with a mentor partner organization in your community.
"My favorite part about our first camp was meeting my camper and getting to know her! She came in feeling pretty nervous and shy, but by the end of the day she was gleaming with joy. I was too. Our day was filled with cartwheels and questions, tennis and life lessons- and this is only the beginning!”- Bailey, Original Design Mentor
“My favorite memory was going skating. It was really cool seeing the kids have fun and do better throughout their time skating. Most of them had never been before so it wasn’t something they were just good at. They had to practice, they had to fall and get back up, and they had to help their friends. But by the end of the day everyone was begging to stay a little while longer. Nothing screams childhood freedom like zooming around a roller rink.” KhaDashia, Real Champions, Inc. Lead Mentor Advocate.
“I love being able to be a part of Original Design. Having this opportunity to give back to the younger generation in this way will always be special to me. Being able to speak into my mentee about who he is and how proud I am of him is what I look forward to on camp days. Plus, I like being able to show him a thing or two whenever we play sports. I’m thankful for
Original Design and how it gives back to the next generation.”- Talon, Original Design Mentor.
“This summer I sat with some of the girls and made friendship bracelets. This was something I loved when I was little but something that isn't often taught now. So, I taught them how to do those and now we all have new jewelry to wear.” – Megan Tice, Real Champions, Inc.