Considered by many to be the best summer camp in the Valley, Camp Helping Hands leaves participants with a positive and lasting impression as they work together to help make a difference in their community.
Originally launched as a simple summer camp project, Camp Helping Hands has become Southern California’s premier service-learning summer camp for young children, quickly settling upon a goal to get these youngsters involved in their community by way of service-learning. And indeed, the commitment to regularly fulfilling that goal has yielded quite the positive result: Through service projects and field trips, Camp Helping Hands leaves participants with a positive and lasting impression by having them work together to help make a difference in their community, where it is needed most. They are possibly the best summer camp in the valley.Meredith Madnick, Camp Helping Hands’ founder and CEO, is no stranger to the summer day camp scene – she has been the brains behind a number of nonprofit camps, considering herself to be a “lifter” when it comes to community service. As she herself explains it, “My journey began when I was just 15 and was accepted to attend a summer community service project that took 10 Americans to Israel, where we cleaned parks, painted community centers, planted trees and much more. The experience in Israel changed me forever; it is what eventually led me to join the United States Peace Corps, and it was while I was teaching in the Corps that I envisioned starting my own service organization someday.”
In addition to being a mother, anthropologist and avid volunteer, Madnick boasts over 15 years’ experience working as a marketer and educator. It is for reasons such as this that many who know Madnick personally often quip that Camp Helping Hands “couldn’t be in better hands.”
Interestingly, the catalyst for the Camp Helping Hands project was the realization that Madnick’s upper-middle-class six-year-old daughter was incapable of knowing what life could be like when we don’t always get what we want – or have what we need. As such, Madnick decided it was time for her daughter to learn compassion and empathy by volunteering her time to help others that were not as fortunate, seeking out programs that supported family volunteering. However, they both found that there was a definite lack of programs accepting young children as volunteers, leading to Madnick seeing this as a tremendous opportunity to launch a summer camp that would expose children to new and rewarding experiences.
“I wanted to send my daughter to a summer camp that emphasized service-learning, but there were none available for younger children,” adds Madnick. “Camp Helping Hands was created to fill this void, because I believe involving children in their community through service at a young age teaches them how they can make a positive and important difference in themselves, others, their community and the environment.We believe that not only will Camp Helping Hands campers be more likely to serve throughout their lifetime, but they will also learn to appreciate diversity in everything and everyone.”
Now in its seventh year – and with six locations around Southern California – Camp Helping Hands offers a myriad of programs and activities, including Family Days, a one-day service program designed for parents who wish to serve side-by-side with the children. Additionally, Helping Hands’ Summer Camps are offered in multiple locations throughout Ventura and Los Angeles counties and provide a fun and safe place for children ages six through 14, enabling them to enjoy sports activities, games, swimming, arts and crafts, camp songs and more. Through meaningful projects and weekly service field trip expeditions, campers learn leadership skills, develop compassion and grow confidence as they address real-world problems via taking action in their community.
Camp Helping Hands’ Do Good Days encompasses programs including the aforementioned Family Days plus School Days and Business Days, with each program providing an opportunity to get on a bus for a day full of fun and heartfelt service.
At the beating heart of everything that Camp Helping Hands is about, though, are its service-learning programs. The facilities put a keen focus on what the campers are doing and why, all while enabling the children to obtain a deeper understanding of how their work is truly making a difference. Further, Camp Helping Hands incorporates the service-learning process – which is not just educational but also fun and engaging – while participants enjoy numerous recreational activities, the core mission being to get kids involved with their community at an early age. According to Helping Hands reps like Madnick, service-learning enhances social, emotional and psychological intellectual development, yielding almost infinite positive outcomes and benefits for all participants involved in the process.
“Through service-learning, campers will experience the joys of feeling socially responsible, developing empathy, gaining increased self-esteem and self-knowledge, making a positive difference in the lives of their own community, others and themselves…and much more,” concludes Madnick. “All the while, teen volunteers and staff will learn to meet new people, exercise compassion for others, attain new ways to develop and learn skills and more, while community service partners gain added human resources necessary to achieve long-term growth for its volunteer pools through exposure, organizational goals, increased public awareness of key issues – and that’s just the beginning.
“To say our programs can be a ‘win-win’ for all involved is an understatement.”
Camp Helping Hands offers locations in Camarillo, Encino, Northridge, Santa Clarita, Thousand Oaks and West Hills and can be reached by calling (805) 244-5071. For more information regarding a specific camp location or its programs visit www.CampHelpingHands.com or email info@CampHelpingHands.com.