Camp Ferguson Fund
When Michael Brown was shot and killed August 9 many schools in the area made the decision to postpone the opening of the school year. That's when Camp Ferguson came to fruition, the idea to offer a free camp retreats for students affected by the ensuing protests and turmoil was born.
It's been more than two years since the night the streets of Ferguson erupted and the cameras and reporters are gone. What remains the same is a divide among residents and visitors in Ferguson as well as in other communities across our county. The children are suffering, they are missing out on valuable developmental skills and Camp Ferguson has been dedicated in providing opportuniites through nature that result in trust, new experiences, life long friendships, confidencec and more.
On October 24-26, 2014 Camp Manitowa hosted the first Camp Ferguson fall retreat, at no charge, for 20 students from Westview Middle School in Ferguson, MO. It was a special weekend and Camp Directors Andy Brown and Dan Grabel realized that Camp Ferguson was something special and needed to continue. Westview Middle School and Jennings High School as well as the schools of social work at the University of Missouri - St. Louis, and Lindenwood University have all participated in Camp Ferguson. The Riverview Gardens Middle School is scheduled to visit for the fourth year in a row. Funding for this retreat in an immideate need.
Read about the innagural retreat here:
Jewish Light article
We believe that a camp experience for these kids can provide a fun and much-needed respite from their daily lives, helps develop leadership skills, personal responsibility, and confidence. They will have an opportunity to try new outdoor recreational activities such as fishing, canoeing, zip-lining, and teambuilding.
Your donations will go directly to fund every student's participation at camp. This includes bus transportation from Ferguson to Camp Manitowa and back, all food and our professional chef who cooks it up, Camp Manitowa counselors who will staff the event, student's supplies such as sleeping bags, rain gear, toiletries, and program supplies including retreat t-shirts and tye dye material, sports equipment, bicycle maintenance, fishing gear, and more!
Camp Manitowa is a sleep-away camp and retreat center located in Southern IL founded by Dan Grabel and Andy Brown in 2011. Both are life-long St. Louisans and opening a summer camp has been a life long professional dream for both Dan and Andy. The camp runs 8 weeks of summer camp and hosts retreats for schools, families, and adults during the Fall and Spring
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The immediate goal NEEDED to send these kids to camp is, $5000 with an overall goal of $25,000 for ongoing retreats. The value is insurmountable. The story can only be shared by someone who experienced it themselves. Below is a letter composed by a visitor to Camp Ferguson in 2016.
Dear All Humanitarians,
Three teenagers sat in a canoe, avoiding eye contact with each other. Katrina, who was black, sat on the bottom of the canoe, terrified, her hands gripping the sides while Allie and Rachel, who were white, paddled away from the dock, not knowing what to say to reassure her. They were three teenagers who were strangers and all experiencing some level of discomfort.
They were only 115 miles away from their homes in Ferguson, Missouri, but Camp Manitowa seemed like another planet
to Katrina and the 19 other Middle School students, most of who had never been away from home and most who had never experienced nature.
It is quite a contrast.
The sparkling green lake surrounded by lush woods, rustic Yurts that blend into the land, the sweet scent of honeysuckle as it floats on restful breezes—many students weren’t sure at first how to comprehend the serene loveliness of their new environment.
After the shooting of Michael Brown and the ensuing unrest that affected the Ferguson community, camp Manitowa owners, Dan Grable and Andy Brown, opened their hearts— and their camp— to children affected by the violence and unrest. Dan and Andy know the transformative magic of their camp. They know how to build confidence, compassion, and leadership skills in kids. And they knew they could give a similar experience to kids in Ferguson.
Together with seasoned Manitowa campers, Katrina and her classmates experienced zip-lining, team building, fishing, storytelling, and of course,—canoeing. Those were all exciting experiences, they had no idea what they were really learning about surviving life.
Those kids who left that canoe dock uncertain and fearful returned thirty minutes later, laughing and joking together. “My friends helped me realize that I was safe and that I could do it!” exclaimed Katrina, grinning with joy and confidence. They were strangers when they began, but the experience created an unbreakable bond, forged through trust and cooperation.
Camp Ferguson brings together children from diverse ethnicities, races, and religions, teaching them to appreciate each others’ differences while working together to accomplish goals. The trusting bonds these kids build together are transformative and have the power to truly effect positive change in their lives.
What if ALL of the children in underserved areas of St. Louis had the benefit of this camp experience? Think of the trust, cooperation, and leadership skills we could develop in these kids who will then bring their newfound knowledge back to strengthen their communities. Numerous studies cited by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services show the incredible benefits that outdoor and place-based education has on individuals and society: improved test scores and academic achievement, self-esteem, ability to deal with stress, and increased compassion for others.
We need funds to make this an ongoing experience. Andy and Dan want to be able to offer camp opportunities and retreats to all sixth graders in the Ferguson district as well as other struggling areas of communities across the Midwest as long as possible.
Please help us transform the lives of St. Louis children. Please help us combat the oppression, violence, and apathy that is plaguing our city with the strength that comes from living and learning in nature.”