A summer refuge
Salvation Army employees send three brothers to camp
They were a family of six: a dad, a mom, three boys and a girl. They are five now. In July of 2006, the distraught father of this once intact family unit took his own life. It was the three boys who found the body of their deceased father in their home.
A life that was always a struggle became decidedly harder as the mom had to deal not only with the grief and pain of losing her husband and the father of her children, but she had to carry on and become the breadwinner and both mother and father to her children, the youngest girl just 2-years-old.
The Salvation Army’s Camp Mt. Crags and Camp Gilmore, located in the Santa Monica Mountains, are not very far away from the inner city where this family lives. But as the pocketbook stretches, it can be as far away as the moon. Summer camp costs money. Despite the efforts of The Salvation Army and its partners such as the Los Angeles Times, sending needy children to a summer camp for a week is not free.
These three boys could not have afforded their time at camp if it were not for the employees of The Salvation Army. Hearing of their situation, the men and women of the Southern California Divisional Headquarters (DHQ) pooled their resources, came up with the necessary funding, and made it possible for the boys to enjoy not one, but two weeks at camp this summer. They enjoyed the camp experience of swimming, rock climbing, hiking and a host of other healthy activities.
Mark Lewis, camp director for The Salvation Army, was especially moved by the generosity of his coworkers. “The boys’ aunt contacted me first and explained the situation.
We do everything in our power to get as many kids to camp we can, but at first I couldn’t promise her anything,” he said. “Then came the donation from the people here at Southern California DHQ, and I was able to tell the aunt to get the boys packed. What a great feeling that was!”
Lewis has heard from the aunt since the boys returned home. She reports that the family is doing better and finding an emotional equilibrium, and expressed gratitude for the positive, healing experience it was for all three boys. They hope to return to camp next year and, with the efforts of so many at Southern California DHQ, that is a distinct possibility.