After nine months of classes and homework, every student needs a vacation. That’s exactly what KidWorks provided for 36 students in sixth through 12th grades who attended our Yosemite summer camp in early July.

“Ranked right at the top of our students favorite KidWorks activities is attending Star Rock Ministries summer camp,” says Maria Ruvalcaba, our Youth Leadership Development Coordinator.

“During this week, they see each other in different ways and in a different setting than what takes place during the school year,” Maria says.

Adds Maria, “Students are able to express their faith in God while enjoying nature with their friends in a fun environment. They see each other in a vulnerable way, too, as they experience new challenges, such as rock climbing and a high ropes course.”

 “One student who challenged himself this year is Joel C.,” says Jesus Arroyo, a Program Assistant at our Dan Donahue Center. “At the beginning of camp, Joel was terrified of heights. Despite his fears, he decided to test himself during the rock-climbing wall and tall pole challenges.”

Adds Jesus, “On his second attempt, Joel told us that his goal was ‘to reach the top.’ Relying on his friends’ cheering and the directions from the staff, he was able to accomplish his goals.”

Jesus says  this led to sharing the Bible verse 1 Thessalonians 5:11 that says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

For 10 years, KidWorks has partnered with Star Rock Ministries, who offer a summer camp that they describe as “Christ-centered camp experiences that grow faith, relationships, character, and life skills to youth from under-resourced communities and the U.S. military.”

On July 2, campers from all three KidWorks centers boarded buses with six of our staff and arrived hours later at Yosemite Sierra Summer Camp (YSSC), just in time for “XLR8” week, made possible through donations and funding from the Urban Youth Workers Institute (UYWI) and their collaboration with Star Rock Ministries Christian Camps.

Among the popular activities our youth were able to select from were nature walks, visiting a waterfall, arts and crafts, skateboarding, archery, rock and wall climbing, tomahawk throwing, marksmanship, pole climbing, a high ropes course and banana boating on Bass Lake.

“This year’s summer camp was especially meaningful because everything Star Rock Ministries included in the July 2 through 7 experience was an intentional blend of growing the students’ faith in Jesus as inspired by the beauty of nature that surrounded them,” says Cynthia Gomez, our Youth Lead.

KidWorks is also very grateful to Kelsey’s Corner for Christ, a ministry formed by Jill and Troy Potts in memory of their daughter, Kelsey Faith, who went to heaven 10 years ago at age 13.

“Our amazing and generous family and friends joined with us to collect and put together 40 backpacks full of goodies for students to take to KidWorks camp,” Jill says. “This included items such as beach towels, sunscreen, lip balm, flashlights, hand sanitizers, journals, water bottles, socks and lots of snacks. We also provided each camp attendee with their own Bible.”

Adds Jill, “We are so grateful the Lord led us to KidWorks, a wonderful organization to partner with and to be a blessing to these 40 campers, sharing the love of Jesus with them.”

Many of our students have never before slept under the stars or even attended a summer camp. That made their visit to Yosemite perfectly timed after working so hard during the past academic year. A few days at camp also assures that they are refreshed and energized for the school year that’s about to begin!

By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer