Organization founded by late judge “Chip” Henry, namesake of camps’ funding arm
To the late Judge Charles “Chip” Henry, time in Nature was simply priceless. In his name, through the Chip Henry Institute for Outdoor Adventure, area kids ages 10 to 15 will spend time this summer acquiring skills and experiences in Nature during Geauga Park District’s new weeklong day camps: Adventure Camp and Space Camp.
And now – coming full circle – an organization founded by Judge Henry himself has signed on as a chief sponsor of the camps.
Friends of CASA for KIDS of Geauga County has committed $5,000 to support the camps through the Chip Henry Institute, according to Amanda Stith, development associate at Geauga Park District. In return for its sponsorship, the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization will receive 10 free camp spots, which it will use to sponsor campers recommended by CASA for Kids of Geauga County.
Friends of CASA provides numerous kinds of support for CASA for KIDS, a program of Geauga County Juvenile Court, where Judge Henry presided. CASA for KIDS trains and provides volunteers to represent the “best interest” of a child when family problems such as substance abuse, mental health issues, and domestic violence result in child abuse and neglect.
Explained Jonathan Slain, president of Friends of CASA, “Friends of CASA supports children who are victims of abuse and neglect by paying for ‘extras’ not afforded them – things like voice recognition software for a paralyzed child, math and science tutoring, summer school classes and more. One of the things we frequently pay for is summer camps for the kids because they have such a positive impact on their lives.
We believe the summer camp program will connect these children in need with Nature in a holistic, healing way.
“By becoming the chief sponsor of the summer camp program (at Geauga Park District), we are honoring the memory of a man who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of innocent children caught in the web of dysfunctional families. We believe the summer camp program will connect these children in need with Nature in a holistic, healing way. We couldn’t be prouder to partner with Geauga Park District and the Chip Henry Institute in this undertaking.”
Christine Steigerwald, program director for CASA for KIDS of Geauga County, also believes in this partnership, and on a number of levels. She even recently accepted a seat on the Chip Henry Institute Steering Committee.
“The Chip Henry Institute summer camps will be a very valuable and enriching experience for the children served by CASA,” she said. “They will benefit from expanding their life skills, self confidence, and appreciation of Nature, as well as the rewarding experiences in the outdoors.” Experiences taken from the camps will also help campers develop coping skills to use for the rest of their lives, Steigerwald said.
Friends of CASA is no new friend of the Chip Henry Institute. Last year it provided $1,000 for the 2nd annual Caveman Crawl 5K Trail Run, which raised more than $6,000 for the Chip Henry Institute, and this year it will provide $3,000 for the 3rd annual event.
About the camps
Registration is now open for the camps, but space is limited so parents and guardians are encouraged to act fast.
Age groups of 10 to 12 and 13 to 15 will trade between adventure and space themes each week from early June through early August, excluding the week of July 4th. A registration fee of $150 will cover the cost of all activities, travel, and equipment.
For more information or to register, contact Denise Wolfe at 440-279-0894, or find calendars and waiver forms online.
“Days at camp will strive to give kids skills and experiences that could spark lifelong pursuits of exploring and enjoying the natural world,” Executive Director Tom Curtin said. “Appropriately this is also the mission of the Chip Henry Institute for Outdoor Adventure, which is supporting these summer camps in the parks.”
The Park District chose those two age groups because they are “too old” for babysitters but too young for jobs, according to organizers.
Adventure Camp will feature days in the parks dedicated to fishing, canoeing, bicycling, hiking, and pond and insect studying, among other activities. The outdoor treasure-hunting game called geocaching will also be included, guiding campers in the use of a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver to seek out containers hidden in the parks.
Naturalist Dottie Mathiott took cues from Geauga County Job and Family Services (JFS) in planning the variety of day to day activities, all of which will begin at Walter C. Best Wildlife Preserve in Munson Township. “Most kids they deal with have had very limited exposure to outdoor recreational activities, so Sara Shininger, community support and volunteer coordinator for Geauga County JFS, felt a varied agenda would be preferred over specialty camps,” Mathiott said.
Meanwhile, over at Observatory Park in Montville Township, Space Camp will be dedicated to telescopes, astronomy, rockets, and other astro-fun activities. Participants will get a handle on desert island navigation, experiment with model rocketry, hunt for meteorites, and learn to set up their own planetariums.
“One day will also include a field trip to either The Cleveland Museum of Natural History or Great Lakes Science Center for an in-depth exploration of planetary science and to take in an IMAX movie,” said Astronomy Naturalist (Astro-Nat) Chris Mentrek.
Geauga Park District Foundation is online.
Friends of CASA for Kids of Geauga County is online.