I have been a volunteer for Camp Horizon for the past 30 years. I am now a volunteer, Board Member and financial donor. I am a complete convert. I was the camp nurse at the first Camp Horizon event in 1982 and have been involved in a variety of ways since. As we serve the needs of children in state custody, unconditional acceptance and respect for all persons are our guiding forces.
By the time children are in DFCS custody, there has been extreme chaos in their homes of origin. Foster children are shuffled from placement to placement, often without prior knowledge of changes forthcoming, and almost exclusively without any input regarding their preference. Despite the best efforts of case managers and foster parents, these children often feel unwanted, unloveable, and disenfranchised.
Camp Horizon offers these wounded children a safe place to begin to understanding their intrinsic value as human beings. Every activity of our Summer Camp program is carefully designed to help increase the self-esteem of these kids. The most effective way that happens, and the most unique aspect of Camp Horizon is that each child is provided with his/her own personal mentor. The people who volunteer to be counselors know that they will be assigned to be a buddy to one kid for the following week. These one to one pairings become relationships of acceptance and friendship and absolutely transform these children. They often arrive withdrawn and full of doubt and fear. During the week, throughout the classes, fun and challenges and successes, these same children absolutely blossom. They are given the affirming attention all children deserve.
While we accept the children as they come to us, they learn that we do not accept all behaviors. Our values are "the 3 R's--Respect, Responsibility and Resilience." These concepts are infused into all activities and reinforced by both counselors and administrative staff. The result of this healthy environment is that children learn to believe in their own value as they learn to make positive decisions regarding their lives. Very quickly they learn the connection between actions and consequences, both positive and negative. Once they make that discovery, they begin to appreciate and own the power they do have to change their lives. They learn they CAN control their decisions and find themselves empowered in unexpected ways.
These values continue through our Leadership Development Program for teens and young adults. We concentrate on building character and learning critical life skills. By the time these teens become adults they have had meaningful, impactful relationships with responsible and safe adults for a number of years. It is from these kids that we learned that they regard Camp Horizon as the consistent, dependable family that they needed and lacked in their lives. We grow to care deeply for these children, to be very invested in their choices and successes and in doing so, they experience the joy and importance of a healthy family.
Camp Horizon began from the efforts of well-intentioned people who wanted to contribute to the community. "Well-intentioned" remains a fit descriptor for the people involved with Camp, but it is hardly sufficient. Camp Horizon is comprised of an extraordinary group of community members who believe wholly in the vision of providing a new and better day for children in foster care. Our roster of staff and volunteers includes people from a wide variety of professions with extraordinary skill and expertise. There are people who work with children professionally--teachers, psychotherapists, social workers, child advocates, members of the health care community, and moms and dads. However, there are many others who bring personal and professional talents and skills to Camp Horizon born simply from their personal passion to provide positive intervention into the lives of children in foster care. We believe that is DOES "take a village" and Camp Horizon's village is unparalleled.
Over the years, my role has become that of "Camp Mom." It is a privilege and honor to be regarded as a mother figure to these kids. My role involves a lot of structuring and hugging. Having been involved for so many years, I have been able to develop relationships with kids that have endured from childhood to adulthood. Without exception, each of these young adults speak of the extraordinary impact that being a part of the Camp Horizon family has had on their lives. They remark that their years of involvement have changed the trajectory of their lives. They learn the power of hope and effort. They experience the exhilaration of challenges met and problems resolved. They learn personal responsibility and personal forgiveness. They learn that some people are worthy of their trust as they are genuinely invested in the progression of their lives.
Other than parenting my own children, being involved with Camp Horizon has been the most challenging and most rewarding experience of my life. My heart has been broken and mended time and time again. To be able to consistently contribute to and observe the transformation and transcendence of these children's lives is nothing short of miraculous. These kids are funny, brave and full of heart. They are endlessly curious and surprisingly insightful. They are brave beyond words and have hearts that are both fragile and strong. Once they learn to trust, their lives just open up in ways that we have grown to expect, but in ways that continue to surprise, delight and inspire us. We learn, we laugh and we love. Camp Horizon provides for these kids the opportunity for a new day, a better day on the horizon. We take that responsibility very seriously. Every person involved is better for it. We are rewarded far beyond what we give.
I have been volunteering with Camp Horizon since 2001. I learned about the organization through my then boyfriend, now husband and became a counselor. I had no idea what would happen as a counselor, but the experiences that I have had there have truly changed my life. The organization's mission is to serve the needs of a desperately underserved population, metro Atlanta children who are in or have been in the foster care system, due to abuse or neglect. The unfathomable strength and effect of this organization goes so much further than I ever realized. We become family to these children. As a counselor I got the privilege of getting to know a child, spending time with her, introducing her to new activities and showering her with encouragement and affection. However, as the years went by, I watched my 9 year old camper turn into a 19 year old young woman. The year round programming allows the volunteers the privilege of regular contact with these children....and these children, who sometimes have NO consistency in their lives, consistency, stability. They know that when they come to a Camp Horizon event there will be so many familiar faces with HUGE open arms. It has truly been an honor to watch our campers come to camp as bright eyed 8 or 9 year olds...moving into fun, sassy, smart teenagers...and then developing into young adults, exploring their adult lives, attending college and pursuing their dreams...and assisting them every step of the way. Camp Horizon is truly a FAMILY in the dream sense of the world. Many real life families are dysfunctional and our children often are the ultimate victims of that in their own families. But Camp Horizon is the ideal family...love, support, and understanding abound. All you need to do is come and we are there for you. I think that organizations such as Camp Horizon are extremely rare and I am honored to be a part of this family year after year.
When you hear the campers talk about Camp Horizon as part of their family, you begin to see the impact that the Camp Horizon organization has had on the lives of so many wonderful children. Since 1996, I have volunteered with Camp Horizon as a counselor, a life skills instructor, a part of the camp staff and as a volunteer for the programs and events throughout the year. The love, commitment and support of the volunteers and donors provides consistent year round programs and events to provide that sense of family for all the children who come through the summer camp program. It is very humbling to see kids who were once campers when i first volunteered many years ago, now as mature adults on their own path to success due in part from the life skills they learned and the unconditional love they received as part of the Camp Horizon Family.
It is so hard to put the beauty, hope and community that is Camp Horizon into words. It is a blessing to be part of a group that is giving these amazing children a place to call home and people to call family.
I have witnessed many miracles that have happened for these children as a result of coming to Camp. As a psychologist who has respect for the time that any personal change takes, it is particularly impressive to see children make changes so quickly at camp. I had a camper whose adoption was about to be disrupted by her adoptive parents due to her aggressive behavior, however her behavior changed so dramatically for the better after camp they were able to keep her in their family. I could write pages and pages about the amazing things I have seen happen for children. However, I think the words of former campers who have stayed in contact with us are even more meaningful.
"Often I couldn't bring anything with me from foster home to foster home, but I always carried my plaque my counselor wrote to me in my hands so I could always read it when things got too hard."
"It really does a lot for someone who feels alone and like they have no one. It gave me something to look forward to, which in foster care is a rare thing."
"You were caring and sensitive to me. It was a very different experience for someone in their life who never had that."
"I had never been around anyone who went to college before I met you. After knowing you were in school I thought I could do that too! You inspired me to do something better with my life."
"I come from a long line of people who thought I was a waste of human existence. Hearing these things makes you wonder if it is true. At camp they thought I was extraordinary and wonderful. At camp, I was really something. Just knowing that makes me try even harder to be a better person today."
I have volunteered with Camp Horizon for the past 13 years. I have served as a summer camp counselor, self esteem and arts and crafts instructor, program director and volunteer. It has been beyond powerful to watch the summer campers (aged 8-11) grow into responsible and resilient young leaders.
As a past program director for the Camp Horizon Leadership Development Program, it was always very powerful to see, hear and watch these young men and women show what they have learned through their camp experiences. They work together as a team, support each other during challenges, articulate their own strengths and weaknesses, and are willing to put energy into changing their own lives.
As a Special Education teacher, I am dedicated to helping change be brought to our world. Camp Horizon brings positive change and unconditional love to children who deserve it and need it to survive. While a small organization, the energy, love and family that has dedicated itself to helping foster children in Atlanta is contagious.
I was introduced to the camp horizon organization last year. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to serve as a volunteer summer camp counselor, and even luckier to be invited back this summer. I cannot put into words how amazing my week at summer camp was and how much it made a difference in my life. As a camp counselor, I was able to bear witness to the positive impact camp horizon made on so many kids in the Atlanta metro foster care system. The camp horizon organization and the people who serve this organization are so special and inspiring. The most amazing thing about this organization to me is that it provides a family and stability for kids that so desperately need it. Once a child goes to camp horizon, they are invited back every year from 8-11 years old. Every child is paired with one counselor (1 to 1) so that for one whole week they have constant access to attention, affirmations, encouragement, and unconditional love. And when possible, they are paired up with the same counselor each year so that a friendship/mentorship can grow and each child can have an adult in their life that loves them and supports them. Camp Horizon also has regular reunions, events, and outings throughout the year. I have been lucky enough to attend a Christmas party, a circus outing, and I look forward to the upcoming spring reunion. At each of those events, I have been able to reunite with my camper and see how she is doing. They also have programs for teens and many campers that are now adults, come back to events and stay in touch with the staff. The teen program has a weekend camp retreat and events throughout the year as well. Camp Horizon teaches every child that they are a promise, they are a possibility, a great big bundle of potentiality. It teaches these kids to love themselves, believe in themselves, to never give up, and know above all things that they are loved.
Camp Horizon is an intentional program designed to promote the self worth and self efficacy of every child who attends. I have had professional experiences in both working for DFCS as a case manager and currently as a psychotherapist providing mental health counseling to children and families. In both roles, I have been impressed by the impact that Camp Horizon has on every child who attends. This impact has spread into the families of these children as they come home after an event and share their experience and lessons learned. Foster mothers have provided feedback that their foster children have come home "a different child" after attending summer camp with Camp Horizon.
Working with troubled children daily allows me to see the long term effects of positive self image and unconditional support-Camp Horizon provides both of these to their campers. The curriculum is designed to build the self esteem of each child while the counselors serve as support systems for these children. For every child, regardless of their background, culture, socioeconomic status, they need to feel capable, lovable, and resilient. The magic of Camp Horizon revolves around providing these experiences to each child-teaching them skills so they learn their capabilities, providing appropriate and consistent love and support, and teaching them about their resiliency. These are just some of the many benefits to these children who attend camp.
Both professionally and personally, I feel that Camp Horizon truly makes a difference for each person who is a part of it. Summer Camp is a theraputic experience for these deserving children and young adults.
I was introduced to Camp Horizon by a friend a few years ago, and I can't wait to join the camp again as a camp counselor. The camp provides a supportive atmosphere for the campers where they can come out of their shells, forget troubles, and just be a kid for a week. I think the same applies to the volunteers! Camp is a fun, growing experience for everyone involved. In addition to the summer activities, the organization provides ongoing support and events throughout the year and as the kids grow into adulthood. A truly inspiring non-profit.
My twin and I have been apart of Camp Horiazon since the age of 10 and we are going on 21 soon. They have been such an amazing blessing to us. They have done so much and it hasnt stopped yet. They have been to our graduations, sent birthday cards EVERY year, being a mentor, but mostly a FAMILY. We are so blessed to have found such an amazing family who we can call on no matter what time or day it is. The progress we make is because of them and we arent afraid to tell ANYONE about them. Their motto is Dona Nobis Pacem which translate: Grant Us Peace and we live by that everyday. My twin brother is in the Army now and they are a main part of why he is there. My twin was thinking about giving up on school when he didnt graduate with me but Camp Horizon stuck with him and inspired him to keep going. He struggled but we were all there to help him and to keep him going, He finally graduated in 2012 and our Camp Family was there to see him walk. I cry to this day when I talk to him because I have seen his struggles and have seen him get back up countless times and every time Camp Horizon is there helping him get through it all. I cant thank them enough for what they have done for the both of us in the last 10 also 11 years. They have really touched countless numbers of hearts and souls and they arent done yet. They truly have hearts of gold and they try all day everyday to keep a smile on EACH and EVERY childs face. We are amazed at how they have helped transform so many lives and it never gets old. No matter what background we have Camp Horizon has been there to help make a better and brighter future. We just want to thank them so much for all of there hard work and let them know this isnt the end yet. Anyone would be blessed to be be at the camp and have all of the staff be apart of their lives so bring on the "puzzles" because I'm positive that Camp Horizon can piece then together.
I have served as a volunteer for Camp Horizon for many years. The Camp Horizon experience is "magical" for both the campers and volunteers. The camp provides a family like experience that fosters resilience in the most fragile youth. Children who have experienced abuse and/or neglect have the opportunity to escape their daily stressors and focus on the joys of being a child. Volunteers have an opportunity to make a meaningful impact in the lives of children who need it most! Each moment of camp is sprinkled with intentional acts of love!
I have been apart of Camp Horizon since of the age 9 now that I'm 23 going on 24 I am grateful for Camp Horizon. They do great work with the many different campers that come through the organization. They are hard workers and believe in the vision of changing youth lives. Opening up the youth mind to different aspects of life and culture. Helping each and every child to open up and be their true selves. My honest open opinion we need more organizations and dedicated people like them. CAMP HORIZON ROCKS!!! We have a purpose we have potentiality and they help the campers realize this.
We have been volunteering with Camp Horizon for over 13 years and realize how important the mission of this organization is to the kids they serve. Foster care, in many cases, is a poor fix to a problem outside the control of the children who are in the system. We have witnessed year after year how this organization teaches these children what proper love looks like, and in the process welcomes each of them into a family of unconditional love. With the creation of the programs for teens and young adults the organization has been able to continue to mentor these youths through the ups and downs of these critical years to lay a foundation that will help them make their way in this world.
You can be a part of the mission through volunteering or financial support. We have witnessed personally how far this organization can stretch its resources and the sacrifices they will go to in order to serve these kids of exceptional promise. Come join the fun!
Being involved with Camp Horizon has been life changing both for the children in foster care that Camp Horizon serves, but also everyone who is involved with these children.
I have been privileged to have known some of these children from the time they were 8 years old and entered our program to their graduation from high school and college. For many of these children, the adults they have known through Camp Horizon have been the most constant thing in their lives. As they are often moved from foster home to foster home, they have very little sense of stability or self worth. Camp Horizon provides them with both stability and unconditional love.
I couldn't be more proud to be involved with this organization.
It is truly life changing.
What could possibly be more important than helping to heal the wounded heart of a child? What could demand more action than child abuse? Who could be more vulnerable than a child in foster care?
Camp horizon has no famous spokesperson. They have no advertising budget. They have no lobbyists or political action committees. What they do have are the most dedicated, compassionate volunteers I have ever known.
Because of these volunteers and the programs designed by them, 82% of Camp Horizon youth graduate high school compared to 46% in foster care nationwide. 64% of them go on to college compared to only 20% in foster care nationwide.
For over 30 years Camp Horizon has been making a positive impact on not just the lives of the children they’ve touched, but on the communities that they live in. I am proud to be a donor, volunteer and board member.
I was initially introduced to Camp Horizon through my work as a youth development and social work professional, and began volunteering in 2004. My volunteer experience over the past 8 years has given me behind the scenes access to the heart and professionalism of this organization, its staff, board, and volunteers. It is easy to see upon a visit to Summer Camp or by volunteering to assist at Outings and events, how much painstaking care goes into quality program design and volunteer training. Even more important, the number of campers turned volunteers indicate the sheer power of this program and ability to reach children and youth when and where they need it most. I'm proud to be a volunteer and donor of Camp Horizon.