We just wrapped up the third year of Camp Skillz in Antioch. Another summer, and another chance to reflect on our work.
When we first came to Nob Hill in Antioch, we put on some week-long day camps. The turnout, the feedback from parents, and the excitement of the youth all convinced us we had started something important. And I’m still convinced, after these years, that this is still important work.
This year we saw a lot of returning faces. Many of the kids in the program have come back year after year, and we have had the great privilege of building and deepening our relationship with the youth at Nob Hill.
Our faithfulness to the work has created a really great environment. The kids were very comfortable. When they first came to camp, you could tell they didn’t quite know what to expect. This was probably because summer camp was not something they were used to.
When I did some drama lessons the first couple of years, it took a lot of work to get them to open up. It took work, but it was worth it to see them open up. No one will ever forget a little girl named Dianne -- one of the shyest and smallest in the camp -- suddenly balking like a chicken so accurately and unexpectedly that everyone in the group burst into uncontrollable laughter.
With the groundwork laid, this year kids came ready. I was so impressed with how willing they were to try new things, perform in front of their friends, and how ready they were to learn. They were excited when Ashley showed up to do Zumba dancing, and they even asked to do drama. Whatever activity we did, they jumped in with both feet. The trust we have developed has created a really great environment where kids are excited to be kids.
The relationships between kids has also been great to watch develop. When camp started, many of the kids did not know each other, but their relationships have grown because of camp. The shared experience has created strong bonds. We had new participants as well, and it was easy to incorporate them into the environment of trust, learning, and fun we have worked hard to cultivate.
This was a year where we got to see the harvest of many years of labor. Kids came excited, ready to try new things, and they trusted that they could open up and be safe at Camp Skillz. It was an exciting year, and it’s hard not to look ahead and see a very bright future.