Soon children will return to school and, within the first week, they’ll write the proverbial essay: “What I did on my summer vacation.”

For the children who participated in Catholic Charities summer programs, the essays will be a must-read full of fun tales – and all true. Their stories will include adventures like swimming in the bay, kayaking, field trips to historic sites, and touring dairy farms and later tasting the freshly churned ice cream.

Children who live with their family at Sarah’s House in Anne Arundel County spent two days a week at River View Farm for camp along the Chesapeake. The kids from our supportive and emergency housing shelter swam, kayaked, scaled a rock climbing wall on the side of a giant grain silo, played games and competed in team sports.

“It was a new experience for most of the children,” said Alexis Taylor, childcare director at Sarah’s House. “Most of the kids had never been to a beach before. They were afraid of the water and the animals in it. And they did not know how to swim.”

By the end of camp, the children were comfortable playing in the bay, knew it was shark-free and “wished they could go to camp every day!”

Schuster Concrete makes these adventures possible. The company hosts camp on its waterfront farm, transports the children on company-sponsored buses, and provides equipment for children to enjoy new experiences.

Miles away in rolling hills of Harford County, the We Cancerve Movement sponsored camp for our Anna’s House children. We Cancerve is a nonprofit led by rising 9th grader and cancer survivor Grace Callwood, and staffed by young volunteers. Because of Callwood’s personal experience, she understands the urgency of doing things now for kids in need.

How was camp?

“Well, I don’t think you could have asked for anything more,” said a 13-year-old volunteer counselor, Peter. “The counselors are nice and welcoming and the activities are fun. Everyone had fun.”

The Anna’s House children visited a dairy farm and its creamery, swam at a community pool, and learned about Maryland’s wildlife at a nature center. The last day was “carnival day,” followed by a cookout and a massive water-balloon battle that left all soaking wet and exclaiming with laughter.

Back in Baltimore City, middle- and high school students from the Esperanza Center’s ESOL program spent five weeks in action – taking English lessons and traveling to museums, national parks, and even Washington, D.C. They learned and formed new friendships.

These positive experiences bolstered the children’s confidence, strengthened their abilities and brought them a joy that they’ll never forget.