It was 80 degrees at 7:30 on a summer morning and the steps of the old church that houses Stewpot Community Services were packed with at least 60 children and more were arriving every minute. Summer camp doesn’t actually start for another half hour, but the buzz of the children’s excitement couldn’t be contained. Soon the air was filled with camp songs: Spring Up Oh Well; Pharaoh, Pharaoh; Boom Chicca Boom; all sung as loudly as their voices could sing. As the morning ritual of singing, checking in with counselors and prayer came to an end, happy children bounced down the stairs eager to participate in whatever new and exciting experience awaited them that day.

This scene replays itself at Stewpot every summer. Inner city children from the west Jackson area attend Summer Camp where we provide a safe, nurturing environment so they can learn, having fun at the same time. The Summer Camp program enhances our Afterschool Program by encouraging the diverse interests of our students through the STEAM model (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). STEAM teaches our children how these different subjects overlap and how they are used in their everyday lives by connecting them to sports, the arts, gardening, environmental responsibility and regular field trips.

Former Stewpot program participant Diva Whalen, a Tougaloo College graduate, is now in the Cancer Research Program at Baylor University. She says Stewpot encouraged her love of science.Untitled-quote21

“(Summer Camp) not only gave me the confidence to do well (especially during our black history quiz bowls and sports) but also Stewpot Summer Camp gave me a sense of responsibility. They gave me my first job as a junior camp counselor and have led me on the path I have taken, which is to be an undergraduate college professor and researcher.”

The Summer Camp program also helps provide a sense of security and safety for our children — many of whom live in difficult, unstable conditions. Perhaps what we do best is to assure every child they’re loved and respected at Stewpot.

Our counselors reassure them Summer Camp is a place to explore their gifts and forge friendships, while impressing upon them their possibilities are endless. Former campers often site this feeling of community as the reason they have come back to work as camp counselors. These former campers and many others are helping provide this sense of love and stability to a new generation of campers.

“There are somethings in life you have absolutely no control over. But programs like this one make (children) feel as if nothing else matters besides being a kid,” says Fred Burns, a former Stewpot Camper, now working as a computer engineer.

“Stewpot is a place where you can stay out of trouble,” adds eighth grader Kwajah Jones. “It helps you keep your mind on the right thing.”

If it wasn’t for Stewpot’s Summer Camp program, the students we serve would not have a place to spend their summer days. They come from very low income families that cannot afford to send their children to summer programs.

The average cost of seven weeks of summer care is $560 per child. Stewpot relies on volunteers and donations to reduce that cost so we’re able to provide Summer Camp at only $300 per camper. Often, still too much for the parents of our children to pay, it’s completely covered by Stewpot through generous donations from people like you.

We do not want money to be a reason any child doesn’t get to experience the excitement and joy of early morning on the steps. No one should have to be left at home or wandering the streets this summer. So, we need your help.

Would you consider sponsoring one of the 200 children who want to attend Stewpot’s Summer Camp this year? Your support could change lives.

Donate online now by clicking the GIVE NOW button on this page. Donations can also be mailed to Stewpot Community Services, P. O. Box 3691, Jackson, MS 39207. Please note on checks and Paypal that your donation is for Summer Camp.