Camp Jameson – Towne Post Network
Jameson Camp ensures that all children can experience the joy of camp
Screenwriter / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photograph courtesy of Jameson Camp
In 1928, Julia Jameson founded Jameson Camp. Located on 125 acres, it was originally designed as an outdoor camp on the outskirts of Indianapolis for tuberculosis patients. Now, nearly a century later, it serves children ages 5 to 17, allowing them to experience both day camp and overnight camp. Best of all, staff members are committed to ensuring that every child has the chance to experience camp, regardless of financial ability.
According to Jess Gillum, program director of camp and youth activities, 95% of their families receive financial assistance of some variety, and about 80% of children who attend camp live below federal poverty guidelines. . Therefore, Jameson Camp staff members work with families to help them submit simple financial documentation so they can receive scholarships.
Additionally, 46% of Jameson‘s campers have a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder or autism. Sometimes it’s the kids who have trouble fitting in with their peers at school. At camp, however, it all falls apart because no one knows the diagnoses, school history, or financial situation.
They have a day camp for children ages 5-12, which is offered in week-long sessions throughout the summer. They also have a weekly overnight camp for ages 7 to 15, as well as a “mini” night camp for 5 to 14 year olds who‘s two days and one night, and is ideal for children who do not‘t ready for a full week.
“Because of the pandemic, many children’s shelters‘I haven’t been away from home for two or three years,” says Gillum. “Others have never done sleep camp, it gives them a taste of what it is‘it’s like.
The goal is for campers to leave with a little more knowledge and courage than they had.
“Camp is the perfect place to get out of your comfort zone and discover your strengths,” says Gillum.
At school, children may feel pressured to do things right the first time, but this‘That’s not the case here.
“Here, if you fail at the climbing wall which‘that’s OK,” Gillum says. “You‘I will have the opportunity to try again. This‘It’s not about doing it perfectly. This‘is to try something.
Spending time at camp can build confidence and independence. Being able to choose activities, as well as establish likes and dislikes, helps children grow. At Jameson Camp, the list of activities is endless. They offer swimming, archery, arts and crafts, rock climbing, ropes course and team building, as well as a variety of sports including basketball. ball, sliding kickball, volleyball and football.
“children‘ favorites are usually the climbing tower and high ropes course,” says Gillum. “We also have a stream running through the camp so we do stream ecology and stream trampling.
Each year the animators adapt the activities to the campers‘ interests. Plus, they hire staff from different countries, each bringing with them a unique skill set. This year they have employees from Jamaica, Mexico, Hungary, Thailand, Scotland, England, Turkey and Ghana.
“We can offer yoga or rugby, for example, depending on the interests of our employees, in order to expand the customer base‘ horizons,” says Gillum.
Earlier this year, she and her team sat down and asked what they wanted their campers to improve upon as they left camp. They found four words: perseverance, responsibility, courage and kindness.
“These are the things that make a person balanced, so we want to instill those values in our children,” says Gillum. For example, they talk about how we‘s actions have an impact on people. “We‘re in a microcosm in a camp so you can see how your actions make others feel. You‘You are already out of your comfort zone, so this is your place of growth.
One of the best parts of camp is the growth that‘s seen through campers as the summer progresses. For example, last year they had a girl who was non-verbal when she arrived.
“She came in saying two words and left saying full sentences,” says Gillum. “It was the most beautiful thing to watch.”
They also always see a huge shift in confidence throughout the season, especially when it comes to swimming. Because some campers are new to the water, having not had access to pools before, they are hesitant to try.
“So many kids sit on the bench at first and then after a while they put their toe in the water,” says Gillum. “At the end of the summer, no child is sitting on the bench. Everyone is cannonballing in the pool.
Each year, Jameson Camp registers approximately 1,000 children. They noticed an increase in enrollment earlier this year.
“Everyone realized how important it is to be outdoors and participate in social interactions,” says Gillum.
Studies show that being immersed in nature is good for your health. Not only does it provide the benefit of being physically active and getting vitamin D from the sun, but camp also provides a learning environment where kids want to participate and ask questions as they discover new things.
“Being comfortable outdoors should last a lifetime,” says Gillum. “The summer camp changed my life as a child and now I work here.
Another great aspect of camp is being paired with mentors – a key part of growing up for many of these kids.
“Many of our children‘They don’t have a lot of mentors in their lives,” says Gillum. “Also, over the past couple of years kids have been taken away from their mentors or maybe seen them through a Zoom screen or a mask. Part of what makes our mentors unique is that our counselors and staff are communicative young adults. We are their cheerleaders.
Most camps have an adult to child ratio of 1:8 or 1:10. The ratio at Jameson Camp is 1:5, depending on age and ability of campers. Additionally, they hire behavioral specialists to help children who may be stressed.
“Children with sensory impairment struggle when a situation gets too noisy or the food doesn’t have the right texture,” says Gillum. “Sometimes the big emotions are really hard on our kids. These specialists step in and separate the child from the group to offer special support.
Additionally, Jameson Camp runs specialty camps each summer, working with children who have been affected by AIDS or HIV. They are also partnering with the Indiana Youth Group to host the state‘s first LGBTQ summer camp. Additionally, their partner, Son of a Saint, strives to transform the lives of fatherless boys through mentorship and peer-to-peer relationships.
“We work with partners in our community to ensure that we‘It’s a low-barrier camp where kids can come out and have a wonderful opportunity no matter where they’re from or what their family is like,” says Gillum.
The last day to apply for financial aid, which is granted on a first-come, first-served basis, is June 1. Camps begin June 6 and end July 29.
Once camp season is over, Camp Jameson remains open year-round to host weddings, parties, corporate retreats, and corporate team building for up to 180 people.
“This‘It’s beautiful here, so it’s a wonderful place to have a party or reception,” says Gillum. “These events allow us to raise funds for our scholarships.
Although Jameson Camp covers a considerable area, it is tucked away in such a way that some people drive by and have no idea it exists.
“We‘I’ve been here for 100 years and we’re our own little oasis,” says Gillum.
To learn more about Jameson Camp, call 317-241-2661 or visit jamesoncamp.org.