Thirty-one children from East Chicago experienced the joys of summer camp inside Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore thanks to generous funding from ArcelorMittal, East Chicago Education Foundation, Foundations of East Chicago and SafetyKleen.
Janet Wozniak, Program Manager at Foundations of East Chicago, had lunch with the campers at Dunes Learning Center on Thursday. “I can’t imagine any child who wouldn’t love this experience,” she said.
That experience includes 5 days and 4 nights of adventures in nature, including hikes, campfires, crafts, sing-a-longs and a beach party on Lake Michigan. The 7 hours spent hiking the 4.5 mile Cowles Bog Trail is an adventure, and accomplishment, that these urban children talk about long after they return to their homes and schools.
Brian, a 6th grader thought, “that the hike would be exhausting,” but decided that it wasn’t that hard after all. With this hike under his belt, he’s eager to take his family hiking in other national parks.
Theresa, age 11, was proud of her trail group’s accomplishment, bragging that they finished 30 minutes ahead of schedule. She called the hike her favorite part of the week because she got to, “run free and have fun.”
Although campers spend one night in a tent, the rest are spent in modern cabins—part of Dunes Learning Center’s nature campus.
Ten year old, Ariyah, was afraid that the cabins would be “horrible,” but bravely, “signed up anyway.” After 4 days at camp, she says that sleeping in the cabin with her bunkmates and counselor, Julie, was her favorite part. “Our counselor taught us to respect others,” reports Ariyah.
Like most of the Earth Campers, Ariyah learned as much about herself in her week away, as she did about nature. And that's the point.
"Camp provides kids with a safe environment where they can take on challenges, build confidence, make friends and experience their world in a whole new way," says Dunes Learning Center Executive Director, Geof Benson, "The lessons they take away really do last a lifetime."
“It’s great to see these kids learning about environmental stewardship,” said Kelly Nissan Communications and Corporate Responsibility Manager, ArcelorMittal. “We often assume that all kids have access to summer camps like this and that’s just not the case. We’re really happy to help support this effort.”