As summer months approach, camp is an experience looked forward to with eager anticipation. A chance to get away from home, have new adventures, and meet new friends! But for some—it’s a chance to heal. To mend broken hearts. To find familiarity again and common ground with peers who understand hurts that many of us cannot imagine.
Several North Carolina camps offer that kind of opportunity, in part due to support from The Rye Foundation. Based in Winston-Salem, the organization derives its name from its focus on religion, youth, and education. This philanthropic group has given over $1 million in gifts, and they are committed to supporting North Carolina camps. Some of the gifts the Rye Foundation has given have gone to support programs that are designed to help children who have faced tremendous loss and hurt. These are children who have lost parents in public service, those who need grief camps, children who have a parent in prison, or missionary kids who are in the States on furlough. Some of the options include:
- Camp Corral is a YMCA-supported camp designed for children who have lost a parent or step-parent on the battlefield, or in public service.It’s also open to children who have a parent who has been injured in the line of duty. These children have experienced tragedies that are almost too heavy to bear. Having a peer group, as well as professional counselors, in a camp setting, is a way to alleviate the burdens. It offers solutions to help them cope when they return home from camp.
- Brighter Days Children’s Grief Camp is sponsored by Mountain Valley Hospice of Mount Airy and has received funding from The Rye Foundation.The program is for children who have lost a parent or sibling. The therapeutic environments are supportive and safe places for children to remember and process their grief in healthy ways.
- Camp Caraway offers a special opportunity each summer for children who have a parent or step-parent in prison. These children face a unique set of challenges in this burden. Between conflicting emotions of hurt and sorrow, as well as confusion, these children can experience camp and interact with people who are trained to help them process their unique situations.
- Merriwood Christian Camp offers ongoing scholarships and financial aid for MKs (Missionary Kids). Those children who are in the States on furlough with their parents are given an opportunity to experience traditional camp in a way they would not be able to on the mission field.
These programs and others are made possible by generous donors, including the monetary gifts bestowed by the Rye Foundation. Led by President Warren Steen, the organization’s primary mission is to leave a legacy. Steen reflected on the words of author Bob Buford, who wrote, “Americans spend a large portion of their lives trying to be successful. And then, many start trying to be significant.”
Steen shared that sentiment and continued, “Our role at the Rye Foundation is to find people who want to be significant and leave a legacy that allows these special camps to continue, and helps fund them, so that more children can experience the normalcy of camp. What better legacy can there be than to help a child develop his or her talents and reach their full potential? Especially when that child is carrying emotional burdens no child should have to carry.”
One of the Rye Foundation’s most prestigious awards, the Ray Bryan Award, is based on its namesake’s belief that, “God has a special plan for each child.” To that end, the Rye Foundation perpetuates that mission by committing $100,000 to honor the memory of Mr. Bryan, including the funding of a unique camp opportunity in Herford, NC, at Camp Cale. The recipient of a $25K grant, this camp has developed a program that will allow 9th- and 10th-grade students to receive extensive spiritual training in a “Leaders of Tomorrow” model. Those students would then be eligible to return as counselors in the 11th and 12th grades.
Camp programs are alive and well in North Carolina, and programs like these are so much more than arts and crafts, canoe rides, and horseback riding, though there is no disputing the importance of those activities. From Mount Airy to Middlesex… and from Hendersonville to Hertford…The Rye Foundation supports these camp initiatives that change lives. One child at a time.
To learn more about these camps or The Rye Foundation, visit RyeFoundation.org or call 336.760.2260.