Summer Camp 2023

How Kids Kept Busy During Summer Vacation – One Hint: Adventures

Kids need support to succeed in school and in life, which is why Mercy Housing offers onsite Resident Services programming to help residents achieve their goals. Out-of-School Time is one of Mercy Housing’s most popular programs and includes activities specifically designed for youth residents. Kids take part in fun, safe, educational year-round program-enriched activities, including help with homework, leadership classes, sports activities, field trips, and more.

Junior Summer Chef
Kids participating in a Jr. Summer Chef Program

Throughout the summer months, hundreds of kids participate in summer camps across Mercy Housing communities. Thanks to donors and sponsors, these camps are free to all Mercy Housing families.

Before Mercy Housing’s youth residents return to school, let’s look back at a memorable summer full of activities from the Pacific Northwest to the Southeast and everywhere in between.

Building Community Through Communication-Based Curriculum

Youth residents who call Family Tree and Woodlake Manor in Everett, Washington home, were treated to a five-week camp over the summer that incorporated a curriculum developed by the Everett School District’s multilingual learner coach.

The camp focused on how to communicate effectively with a focus on cultural diversity. Camp leaders taught the kids the difference between discussing and arguing. The camp also worked on basic sentence structures like nouns, verbs, and adjectives while using other countries and cultures as a guide.

Youth participants also spent time journaling answering questions such as, “What does family mean,” “What does community mean,” and “What makes your community special,” in their prompts.

The camp provided everyone with the opportunity to learn and practice respect for one another, the importance of setting boundaries, and more. To do this, campers wrote chants about community, traditions, and diversity.

A big thank you to the teachers in Everett for volunteering your time for summer!

UC Davis BETA Lab Develops STEAM-Centered Activities for Camp Mercy  

This year, 356 Mercy Housing California youth participated in Camp Mercy at 15 Sacramento area properties. The camps were held in June and July and ran for four to five weeks at each site for two-and-a-half to four hours daily.

LED Circuit Light Up Cards
LED Light Up Card is ready to use.

Camp Mercy participants started out each day with healthy snacks, followed by the opportunity to share any reflections and/or opportunities with one another. Community partner, UC Davis BETA (Builder, Engineer, Tinker, Adapt) Labs developed the STEAM-centered camp activities which included making Propeller Cars, LED Paper Circuits (Light Up Cards), Balloon Drums, Music Shakers, and more. Other activities used common household items and craft supplies for creating individual art projects, such as self-portraits using materials from nature and kitchen crafts to make slime and ice cream in a bag.

At the end of each day, camp participants shared their thoughts about the day’s activities.

Summer of STEAM

Mixing it Up for Mountain Plains Youth Mercy Housing Mountain Plains

Tighten those tool belts because construction skills were on the minds of over 20 Mercy Housing Mountain Plains youth residents, ages 13-18, as they paid a visit to Swinerton’s warehouse in Denver for a Technical Construction Skills Trade Fair, where they learned about construction careers and related fields. There were four stations set up providing the kids with hands-on experience in concrete, drywall, welding, and career readiness. The Swinerton team also provided lunch for the kids and shared stories about the benefits of choosing a career in construction.

Meanwhile, 36 kids from across our Colorado communities participated in the annual Fishin’ for Hip Hop Field Trip. This popular event led by our dear friend, Malik in partnership with the Colorado Parks & Wildlife, taught youth how to “catch & release.” Some of the kids participating caught as many as seven fish, and all the kids received their own fishing poles to take home. We look forward to our continued partnership with both Malik and the Colorado Parks & Wildlife as we encourage kids to spend more time in the great outdoors.

Fishing for Hip Hop 2023
Gone fishin’ indeed!

And in Utah, Utah State University–Kaysville (USU Kaysville) brought a weeklong day camp called Camp Thrive to Francis Peak View’s middle school students that focused on resiliency and good mental health. As kids prepare to head back to school, this program will expand to include cooking and nutrition classes for kindergarten – 12th graders and will also offer cooking classes to adults and families at night. The University has already provided recipes that utilize affordable and accessible foods that can often be found in the community’s food pantry. Recently, five of those recipes were tested with residents who were given recipe cards and ingredients to try at home. They were a hit!

Educational Fun Activities Lead the Way at Camp Adventure

Opened earlier this year, the Activity Center located inside the Lofts on Arthington in Chicago was home to Camp Adventure, a six-week summer camp for youth residents. Camp Adventure engages youth in educational and fun activities guided by a different theme each week.

For example, during “Money Week,” the kids participated in financial literacy activities in collaboration with U.S. Bank, which included a field trip to the Money Museum and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. While “Walk on the Wild Side” week included a surprise visit from Animal Quest who brought several exotic animals to the Activity Center, where excited campers learned about animals and their natural habitats.

From interacting with animals to enjoying the last days of summer before heading back to school, Batavia Apartment families were treated to a “Back to School Foam Celebration.”

20 community partners joined residents for this community-wide event, which included stations for kids to make their own pet rocks, free hygiene projects, job recruitment, and mentorship opportunities. Healthy snacks were also handed out to everyone who attended, and a newly gifted bicycle repair station was installed for all the bicycles donated by the Batavia Bicycle Commission.

Fun with Bubbles
Kids had a ball playing outside with a foam bubbles machine.

Plus, Batavia School District teachers and the Community Outreach Department connected with families for a youth summer reading program that ended with three winners with over 111 books read! Congratulations to the top readers, who each one a skating pass for four to Fun Way.

Families, site staff, and community volunteers all enjoyed cotton candy and raffles of course!

Fun with Twist Art, Field Trips, and Literacy Activities 

Summer was in full swing in Georgia for 48 Savannah Gardens and Thrive Sweet Auburn youth.

At Mercy Housing Southeast’s brand-new Thrive Sweet Auburn community, new residents enjoyed their first summer camp with field trips to the Georgia Aquarium, Urban Air Trampoline, and Adventure Park. Families at Thrive Sweet Auburn are new to Mercy Housing and the Resident Services programs including the summer food program Happy Helpings. It was the perfect opportunity for residents of all ages to become more familiar with their new community.

MHSE Camp Mercy 23
Kids and staff gather following a fun day at Camp Mercy in Savannah, GA.

Savannah Gardens youth residents took their painting skills to a new level with the help of Twist Art. They also had the opportunity to see wildlife up close with a visit to Oatland Island Wildlife Center and joined in various teambuilding recreation and exercise programs in the community. Youth also participated in bowling, dance camp, STEM, and literacy enhancement activities. They even took part in a field trip to the UGA Aquarium.

Thank you to the Georgia Department of Education BOOST grant, the City of Savannah, and the United Way of Greater Atlanta for supporting our campers through your generous donations.