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April 11th, 2017 by Sierra Madre Weekly
This summer is going to have a little more sizzle than previous ones because Camp Helping Hands (www.camphelpinghands.com) is literally setting up camp in five more cities throughout the Southland. While there may not a location in your own backyard, there are now six to choose from; and all are well worth the drive!
Coming this July, the Southland’s premier service-learning camp will open the doors to its new locations in Encino, West Hills, Northridge, Santa Clarita and Camarillo, as well as its original camp in Thousand Oaks, but that’s only the beginning. By expanding, Camp Helping Hands is opening up a tremendous one-of-a-kind opportunity for even more young children to be able to participate in a host of educational and fun adventures that promote self-development and community involvement.
Summer 2017 registration is now open for all locations of Camp Helping Hands, which runs July 10, through August 4. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with additional options for early drop-off and late pick-up.
The brainchild of Founder and CEO Meredith Madnick, Camp Helping Hands is unique in that its model of service-learning, as opposed to strictly volunteering, enhances psychological, social and emotional intellectual development. Participants are encouraged to reflect on what they are doing and why they are doing it which, in turn, gives them a deeper understanding of how their work is making a difference where it is needed most.
Each camp location has a different theme but all follow the same program; with week one focusing on the earth, week two on people, week three on animals and week four on community.
“It is immensely fulfilling to witness young children realize that they have the power to make a difference in their community and are part of something bigger than themselves,” said Madnick who turned a summer camp project that she started in 2011 into one of the Southland’s most revered service-learning youth summer camps for children between the ages of six and 14 years old. “The pride and satisfaction they feel as a result of their participation is infectious and we, at Camp Helping Hands, are so honored to be part of the process with them.”
While swimming, playing games and arts and crafts, as well as many more activities associated with summer camp, are offered, it is the two weekly service field trip expeditions and meaningful projects that further distinguish Camp Helping Hands from most others. Campers are organized in age groups with a minimum of one counselor assigned to every seven children.
“Camp Helping Hands was an amazing experience for my daughter. She had felt overwhelmed by the larger camps she had attended in previous summers. At Camp Helping Hands, she flourished in the close-knit, hands-on environment,” said Bridget Hearon of Thousand Oaks. “She enjoyed the traditional camp activities and came home singing songs and sharing stories. The community-oriented field trips were fun, educational, and helped impress upon her that there is a bigger world outside of what she knows.”
The California Wildlife Center, Food Forward, Los Angeles Guerrilla Gardening, Ojai Rapture Center, The Gentle Barn, the Humane Society of Ventura County and the Animal Tracks are among the growing list of Camp Helping Hands notable community partners.
Learning life and leadership skills, how to collaborate and work well with others as well as developing compassion and empathy while feeling socially responsible are among the many ways camp-goers benefit from Camp Helping Hands.
“Self-confidence and a strong sense of self-worth are something that every child should feel and at Camp Helping Hands we make sure they do,” continued Madnick. “We are thrilled to open the doors of our camp to even more children this summer with the addition of our new locations. We look forward to reuniting with returning campers, and welcoming new ones, as we make Summer 2017 one filled with lessons, moments and memories that will last a lifetime.”
Camp Helping Hands also has opportunities for teens and young adults to participate in its Junior Counselor program. Campers between 12-years-old and 14-years-old act as Counselors-In-Training and can attend for discounted rate.