For over 90 years, Catholic Charities Community Services of Summit County (CCCS/SC) has welcomed children and adults to grow in nature, community and spirit at Camp Christopher.
Sponsored by the Diocese of Cleveland, Camp Christopher provides a wide range of experiences from residential camp to day camps, camp for children and adults with disabilities, leadership camp for youth and more.
“People say there’s a special spirit out at camp, we call it Christopher spirit,”
commented Kelly Kaufman, Community Relations Manager for Catholic Charities of Summit County. Not only does the camp provide traditional camp activities such as zip lines, ropes courses, hiking trails, canoe rides, fishing, and archery, but they also intertwine faith through daily mass and prayer and encouraging campers to find God in nature. One camper described their experience as, “camp is as close as you get to heaven on earth.”
Camp Christopher offers kids and families holistic experiences in mind, body and spirit. “We have a very high return rate of kids that come back to Camp Christopher year after year,” commented Kelly. “Generations of families call camp their home each summer and we have a strong network of alumni that continue to support that spirit of Camp Christopher. We live in a fast-paced world of smart phones and instant communication, a day or a week at camp offers kids the space to relax, learn and get back to basics,” she added.
Akronlife Magazine recently voted Camp Christopher as the Best Local Summer Camp for Kids for the second year in a row. From their residential camp to their day camps they were filled to capacity this summer. “At Camp Christopher we really stress being inclusionary. We offer programs for kids with disabilities that run in conjunction with our other camp programs. We also provide transportation for our day camps and pick up kids from their local churches. Because our traditional camp ends at age 16 and our counselors have to be 18 years old, we offer a leadership camp for 17 year olds so that they can continue to come back,” added Kelly.
Camp Christopher is a year round camp. When day camps end at the beginning of August, they continue their programming into the fall with environmental education programs for schools to supplement their curriculum, as well as family camp and winter camping. Camp Christopher also rents its spaces to churches, schools and other ministries throughout the Diocese of Cleveland. “There’s a lot going on at Camp and we’ve made a lot of capital improvements going into this season,” added Kelly. Their improvements include new cabins, a new pavilion with a fireplace, new docks and a new challenge zip line course due for completion in the next few weeks.
Although Camp Christopher is one of the largest ministries run by Catholic Charities Community Services of Summit County, it is far from being their only one.
This fall will see the second installment of the MAGIC Mentors program. Thanks in part to a grant from the State of Ohio, CCCS/SC is collaborating with local schools, nonprofit and business partners for a mentoring program for at-risk youth.
MAGIC is an acronym for Mentoring Adolescents through Guidance, Inspiration and Compassion. The program is a partnership with the Barberton City Schools, St. Augustine Elementary and 13 business, community and government partners. The program’s goal is to recruit 25 students and 15 adult mentors. The mentors will serve as role models and meet one-on-one and in group settings with their mentees. MAGIC also fosters relationship building through community-based field trips.. The community partners welcome the mentees to help them gain confidence and network with community and civic leaders.
In both Camp Christopher and MAGIC Mentors, Catholic Charities emphasizes the responsibility of cultivating a community that develops friendships and respects the dignity of every person. For more information on either Camp Christopher, MAGIC Mentors or their other programs, visit their website at www.ccdocle.org/summit-county.