December 20, 2014 · 28 Kislev

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Camp Impact - Mitzvah Corps

Congregation Beth Shalom

1210 Thannisch Drive
Arlington, Texas 76011
Congregation Beth Shalom's website

The Fain Awards have gone to many deserving congregations. Here it is the temple's Youth Group that earned the award for the congregation. At Congregation Beth Shalom in Arlington, Texas, a youth group of 40 teens has created a Tikkun Olam Project called Camp Impact. The project's mission is to provide five days of summer camp to 70 homeless and/or battered children. Campers are referred from homeless shelters by school workers in impoverished areas.

The youth group's goal in continuing this project is two-fold. It hopes to break the cycles of violence and despair perpetuated by the neglect of the children they help, and to promote social responsibility in the youth group as well as in the greater community.

The entire Congregation is helping with the project. Every year congregants donate money to camp through a special T-shirt fundraiser. Adult volunteers assist with programs, kitchen duties and transportation for the campers. Youth participants plan camp, develop programs, procure supplies and act as counselors.

In the past the camp has hosted children from numerous agencies in the community which serve at-risk children.

The camp program includes three meals a day for campers, arts and crafts projects, athletic activities, guest speakers, and a carnival on the last day of camp.

Planning Camp Impact is a yearlong project. Youth groupers search for grants, develop programs, and encourage congregants to donate their time and services. In the long-term, these activities promote the individual growth of the campers. They provide an environment in which each camper can learn to overcome the cycle of poverty through a strong emphasis on continuing education and building healthy relationships, as well as illuminating each child's unique abilities and talents. In the short-term, the camp offers children who are often confronted with painfully adult situations the opportunity to briefly reclaim their childhood.

Is your congregation looking for more ways to reach out to the community? Check out the Religious Action Center Program Bank.

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