Summer Fun Begins for the Children in Appalachia

Summer Fun begins for the children that so need it in Appalachia

June 3, 2024

Summer Fun Begins for the Children in Appalachia

Summer Fun begins for the children that so need it in Appalachia

June 3, 2024

Young students across the U.S. are looking forward to the end of another academic year and eagerly awaiting summer vacation, during which many will go on trips with their families to the beach, camp in the mountains, and attend summer camps.

But for many in distressed Appalachian communities, the summer break is no “vacation” at all. They face isolation in their rural, remote homes, miles from the friends they see every school day, and hunger from the lack of food in the cupboards at home and no school breakfasts and lunches.

However, to help alleviate those and other disturbing circumstances, thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, we can provide grant funding for summer camp programs operated by our partners, Big Creek People in Action (BCPIA) in McDowell County, West Virginia, and Cumberland Mountain Outreach (CMO) in Lee County, Kentucky. These programs are not just about making memories and new friends, they are about transforming lives, providing a safe haven and a chance for these children to experience joy and growth that they might not otherwise have. Your support can make a world of difference.

Last summer, BCPIA, which also operates an afterschool program throughout the school year also supported by Americans Helping Americans®, provided nearly two dozen kids living in the distressed Appalachian community with “a great three-week summer camp,” reported executive director Dyanne Spriggs.

“The kids were picked up and brought to the center where they made arts and crafts projects such as wooden magnets, painting canvases, and summer squishies. We watched movies and took them to the city park numerous times.”

In addition, many of them discovered that they had a “green thumb” while planting a garden in raised wooden garden beds and caring for their crops, including tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers, and even some eggplant and okra.

“They really enjoyed picking the ripe vegetables and fruits and eating them,” Dyanne commented, adding, “For fun, they planted two types of ‘Zombie’ plants that fall over like they are dead if touched, and the kids were amazed.

“They really enjoyed picking the ripe vegetables and fruits and eating them.”

But most certainly, the highlight of their summer camp experience was a three-day, two-night trip to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee – all decked out in three brand-new outfits purchased for each child, along with a new pair of shoes, a swimsuit, and even pajamas.

 “Our kids were able to enjoy doing so many new things, including watching the Pirate Voyage Dinner Show, visiting the Rainforest Zoo, which had a show introducing the children to exotic animals (they were able to hold and pet most all of them, including a 10-foot python!) and a petting zoo,” Dyanne reported.

“They were able to swim in the pool at our cabin, which had a lazy river running through it. We had our own miniature golf course and pool tables, and we made s’mores around the campfire. They were also able to ride go-karts, which was their favorite thing to do!”

For this year’s summer camp to be held for two weeks in June, Dyanne expects to serve 20-30 kids ages 5-13. As many parents or grandparents cannot make the trip back and forth each day to BCPIA’s headquarters, a former high school where most of the camp activities take place, grant funding from Americans Helping Americans® includes the cost of transporting them to and from the program and a packed lunch meal and snack each day.

“Because almost all of the kids we serve have never been on vacation, at the end of the camp, we will be planning a field trip to the Smoky Mountains to stay a few days in a cabin,” says Dyanne. “They loved their trip in the summer of 2022; this time, we will take them to a few new places.”

The grant funding from Americans Helping Americans® also covers the typical expenses of operating a summer day camp, including arts and crafts supplies and fees for recreational activities, such as taking the kids to the pool at nearby Berwind Lake for a last-day-of-camp celebration.

According to CMO President/CEO Cynthia Evanoff, last year’s activities for about 30 local kids in Lee County included a week of arts and crafts, hiking, swimming at a local pool, bowling, and even ziplining.

For this year, Americans Helping Americans® is providing grant funding for CMO’s “Kid’s Day Camp and Teen Leadership program, which offers daycare and proper nutrition for children and families who cannot afford a standard summer camp.

Cindy notes that there is only one other summer camp for local children “and the camp costs much more than many families can budget for at $150 per week.

“With many families struggling to eat, paying for such a camp is unfortunately not an option for most citizens.”

CMO’s day camp will run for five weeks this summer and includes breakfast, lunch, and snacks throughout the day. It features a daily schedule of games, songs, and lessons designed to help grow strong bodies and minds. At least two hours of physical activity daily is implemented to help combat the lack of exercise these children may be accustomed to.

“Introducing young minds to proper nutrition and exercise is very important to the betterment of the individual and community.”

In addition, with the grant funding from Americans Helping Americans® thanks to our supporters, CMO has the ability “to provide the children with healthy food, take them to destinations that they previously didn’t have the financial means to attend to, facilitate healthy outside activities in the form of games and experiences and projects that normally would be unattainable.”

And, as Dyanne at BCPIA wants the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® to know:

“We would not be able to serve these kids through the summer camp without financial support for the meals, activities, transportation, and field trips.

“The only funding we receive for our summer camp comes from Americans Helping Americans® for which we are truly grateful.”

Support these programs and make a difference in the lives of children in distressed Appalachian communities by clicking the button below.

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