GREENFIELD — Nameless Creek Youth Camp is gearing up for a summer full of activity, and at the top of the list is an annual gathering geared toward serving at-risk youth.
The organization’s Plug into Nature summer camp is designed to benefit Hancock County students who local school social workers worry might miss out on summer-time activities because of their family’s financial status, camp director Martha Haynes said.
The Plug into Nature camp was started out of the organization’s mission to give all children a summer camp experience regardless of their family’s income.
To do so, organizers partnered with social workers and guidance counselors in Hancock County schools to get camp information out to families who might utilize aid programs, such as free and reduced-price lunch. The camp is offered to these families at a reduced rate before registration is opened to the general public.
Now that low-income students have been given a chance to sign up, registration is open to all Hancock County third-, fourth- and fifth-graders.
Campers who participate will set aside their phones, iPods and computers for the summer in exchange for camp’s 12 acres of trails and trees, Haynes said.
“Kids need to be in the woods,” she said. “(Nameless Creek) is very inviting to children, and we want them to get out there and enjoy it.”
Plug into Nature is a week-long day camp, running between 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 6 to 10. Campers spend their days at Nameless Creek participating in a range of activities, from learning to use a compass to practicing basic cooking skills, camp president Jerry Bell said, all while developing important social skills.
Once they are all at Nameless Creek, only Bell and Haynes know which students come from disadvantaged homes. The students are all treated as equals.
Interactions with their peers outside of a classroom environment can be a great way for kids to form camaraderie and fellowship, Bell said.
“(Nameless Creek) is a place to feel comfortable, to unplug from technology, and not sit at home all day unattended,” he said. “They are learning, exercising and doing new things.”
As with much of Nameless Creek’s programming, Plug into Nature is funded in part by contributions from area sponsors, grants and membership dues, which keeps the camp inexpensive for families, board member Brent Eaton said.
“The amount of people from Hancock County that consistently help is really impressive,” he said.
Eaton’s own children have participated in camps and outings at Nameless Creek, so he knows the value of the site and the experiences and memories it generates.
“It’s a great community resource,” Eaton said. “It provides a beautiful, safe and informative location for groups to learn and enjoy nature right here in the community.”
Space in the camp’s roster is limited; organizers are hoping to maintain a ratio of eight counselors to every one camper.
In addition to the adult supervisors, dozens of area high school juniors and seniors volunteer to oversee the Plug into Nature camp. The interaction among different age groups is great for all involved, Haynes said.
“It’s a win-win for everyone,” she said. “Kids respond well (to activities) with older students, and the older kids get a chance to lead.”
Parents interested in registering their children for Plug into Nature Camp may contact camp director Martha Haynes at 317-861-1116. Deadline to register for the camp, which runs 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 6-10, is May 29. Children should be entering third, fourth or fifth grade. The camp is open to 48 county students.