Camp Ladore is On
The Salvation Army Camp Ladore is changing things up this summer due to the pandemic and providing children with a unique opportunity to stay engaged, entertained, busy, and safe. Children can meet new friends and socialize in the exciting new E-Camp online summer camp.
“There will be singing, crafts, Bible teaching, a video episode each day, and a theme for the week,” explained Captain Alexis Castillo, Camp Ladore Director along with his wife, Captain Lorena. “We will have a couple of challenges for the campers to do and Zoom meetings on Fridays to talk about what they have seen on the videos. We are trying to be as interactive as we can.”
Camp Ladore typically hosts 2,500 campers during the summer season. This year, Captains Castillo are expecting to have at least 1,000 children participate in E-Camp. A survey was sent to families whose children attended Camp Ladore in prior years to determine how many children would be interested in an online camp experience. Many families were eager to have their children participate. Some parents expressed concerns their children were in front of computer screens for the last several months of school and wanted them to be more active this summer.
Captains Alexis and Lorena have a nine-year-old son, and like many parents, they struggled with the homeschooling required by the shutdown of schools. “We became the teachers. That was very hard,” Captain Alexis remarked. He understands parents need a break from that role and designed E-Camp with this in mind, making sure activities are safe and child-directed, requiring minimal parental guidance.
The online camp is packed with structured physical activities, such as obstacle courses and games which can be set up and played outside in a backyard or an apartment. If parents sign permission slips, campers can videotape their participation in the activities and send it to Camp Ladore staff, who will compile it and upload it for viewing. Other print materials such as scriptures, instructions for activities, and recipes for snacks which the children may prepare can be downloaded from the website.
E-Camp takes place over four weeks from Monday through Friday, starting on July 6th until July 31st . The online camp is a combination of vacation Bible school activities merged with camp activities. The team that designed E-Camp consists of The Salvation Army Youth Department, and Music and Creative Arts staff. The staff is currently hard at work producing video episodes campers will view each day. Children will be singing familiar songs and will be introduced to the new Camp Ladore song, which will premiere this summer.
E-Camp is open to children ages 7 through 12 who live in the Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware area and is free of charge. Families can go to the Camp Ladore website and register. Children who are registered will receive a camp package in the mail, which includes a Camp Ladore shirt, a Bible, and all the materials and instructions needed to make the crafts and complete the activities.
Amy Williams has sent two of her sons, ages 10 and 12, to Camp Ladore for the last few summers. She was planning on sending her 7-year-old son along with them this year. After a difficult school year which involved all three boys learning at home online due to the pandemic, Amy was happy to hear ECamp would be child-friendly and require minimal parental supervision. “That would be wonderful,” Amy said. “If it is something they can do on their own and I wouldn’t have to necessarily be on top of them, that would be amazing.”
Keneshia Webb, office manager of The Salvation Army Youth Department, believes the online camp is going to have a positive impact on children. “We are trying to make E-Camp a universal thing. Even if children are not familiar with Camp Ladore, when they see the videos online, they can follow along. In some of the video segments, you will hear voices of the children and past staff members. This will give campers a sense of connection to Camp Ladore, even though they can’t be here this summer.”
This summer will certainly be different for Camp Ladore, but Keneshia sees something positive coming out of it. “Now that it’s online, a lot of people who may not know about Camp Ladore will have access to some of the things we do, and it will spread more awareness and understanding about what The Salvation Army Camps are all about.”
As the community begins the road to recovery, they can be assured The Salvation Army will walk with them every step of the way. The Salvation Army will always be in every community before, during, and after a crisis. The Salvation Army is here. Here. For Good. To give to The Salvation Army, please go to Here. For Good.