Camp offers children of prisoners safe haven, fun
    July 15 2010 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

    For many, going to camp is a rite of passage.

    But for children who have a parent in prison, Camp Angel Tree offers a safe place with other children with incarcerated parents.

    “The walls come down and they start to trust,” said Ashley Groce, one of the assistant directors at Camp Mundo Vista in Sophia. “I love watching the staff; you get to see their hearts being broken.”

    Groce, who is serving her fifth summer at the camp, said investing in the girls’ lives makes a difference.

    More than 80 girls and 70 boys were on site June 27-30 at Mundo and at Camp Caraway across the road. These camps, which are for 9-12-year-olds who have completed first through third grade, are sponsored by Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC) and North Carolina Baptist Men in partnership with Prison Fellowship.

    Amy Saunders, a member of Yates Baptist Church, is on staff at Camp Mundo Vista this summer. Above, Saunders poses with some of the campers she worked with in 2009 for Camp Angel Tree. She is the daughter of John Saunders, director of missions for Yates Baptist Association.  

    Many volunteers make the camps possible, said Tammy Tate, Mundo’s program director. Volunteers sponsor children as well as provide transportation to and from camp.

    Yates Baptist Association has been transporting children from cities within the association to and from camp. John Saunders, director of missions of Yates Baptist Association, said his church — Yates Baptist Church in Durham — has coordinated with the families the last three years.

    “It is rewarding because you see the difference it has in the children’s lives,” Saunders said. “The staffs at the camps are real good with the kids. I think it is a mission opportunity to help these kids go to camp and to have a different kind of experience in their life and to see the impact that the camp has on their lives.”

    One of the young men Saunders met before the children left did not want to go, but “when we went to pick him up he didn’t want to leave,” he said.

    While campers pay for part of their cost, Tate said WMU-NC has money in its budget to help offset the cost, which averages $175 per camper. This money takes care of personnel, food, lodging and money for the canteen.

    A special part for Tate, not just with Camp Angel Tree, is seeing the same kids come back again.

    “It’s really cool to see them come back year after year excited to see what they’ve learned,” she said.

    One of the favorite times for Scarlet Welborn is the extended swimming time. “I love swimming with the campers because they latch on,” said Welborn, who is the other assistant director. “It’s just awesome to see them grow.”

    Welborn said she also enjoys seeing the older children show the younger campers about camp.

    Volunteers are needed to transport the children to camp as well as to provide sponsorships. Each camp can host up to 120 children.

    At WMU-NC, contact Cara Lynn Vogel at (866) 210-8602, ext. 205, or

    At N.C. Baptist Men, contact Kecia Morgan at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5613, or
    7/15/2010 7:59:00 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments

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