One hundred and seventy at-risk youth attended Adventist Community Services of Greater Washington’s “Making Tracks Summer Camp” this year. This is the third year ACSGW has hosted summer youth camps.
“This project is fast becoming the flagship program in the area,” says Ken Flemmer, director. “This program isn’t your typical summer camp. It’s a six week, five-day a week program that provides quality care, teaches life skills and offers academic enrichment. The academic component of this camp is critical. Parents typically work long hours and struggle to engage with their children over the summer months, leaving little time to help build academic skills.”
Flemmer says, that in addition, government statistics indicate about 40% of Montgomery County (Md.) residents speak a language other than English at home. According to ACSGW’s academic tracking, campers improve in reading, writing and math scores through the individualized help of certified school teachers, who are instructors at the camp.
Swimming lessons, taught by professionals, are also offered. “Parents who make a low-income seldom have the means to provide instruction for this critical life skill. We’re thrilled to be able to help,” says Flemmer. This summer, the camp also offered, for the first time, a six-hour introduction to computer coding and local professionals visited with campers to inspire and answer questions.
ACSGW provides all of this through the help of its partners—Montgomery County Recreation Department (as part of its Food, Fun, Fitness and Fundamentals program), Montgomery County
Public Schools, Health and Human Services, Manna Food, Adventist Health and Strathmore. With summer camp at a close, leaders are focusing on new challenges in the area, like increasing the amount of food and clothing they can give to struggling families as well as helping families and the elderly manage the rising costs of rent and utilities.
Earlier this year, representatives from the Montgomery County Council of Maryland honored ACSGW for its 35 years of ministry to the community. Flemmer, who also serves on the East Montgomery County Advisory Board, took the opportunity to raise awareness of the rapidly expanding social and economic challenges of East Montgomery County, adding that 40 percent of ACSGW’s clients are from the eastern area of the county.
“I have lived in this area over 30 years and wasn’t aware myself of the realities that many Montgomery County citizens experience every day,” said Flemmer in his appeal to local church leaders and administrators. “We need to be more aware, so that we may develop partnerships and connections that can help us all do more.”
Go to acsgw.org to find out how you can volunteer or donate!