Featured Grant Story: Friends of Camp Mary White
Friends of Camp Mary White (FCMW) is an organization that was established in 2003 to provide girls and women a rustic outdoor experience where they can foster confidence, independence, and leadership.
They provide camperships, with funds from the Community Foundation of West Texas, to financially disadvantaged girls in the South Plains. FCMW’s ability to attend camp provides an opportunity to remove the financial barrier that families face when providing a summer camp experience for their child. FCMW partners with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lubbock and Communities in Schools of the South Plains to identify girls within their programs that would benefit from attending Camp Mary White (CMW).
Many of these girls on camperships have not had the opportunity to travel beyond West Texas. Many have never been to the mountains or stayed overnight away from their home at a summer camp. This project improves the lives of these girls through experiencing the four core areas of each campers’ growth at CMW.
In 2017, FCMW provided many camperships with two of the girls who attended the camp being greatly impacted. The girls were sisters, ages 9 and 12. As the children of a disabled veteran who had recently been diagnosed with cancer, the girls’ mother wanted them to be able to escape the pressures in their home. However, this was not a viable option due to the cost of camp. The girls then applied for, and received, camperships.
The older sister was quiet and reserved, lacking self-confidence. The staff at camp worked with her to better her sense of self and social skills. The girl became engaged with her fellow campers and counselors over the course of her stay at camp.
During one of the camp activities the older sister began to experience doubt that she could finish the hike around the 200 acre property. However, halfway through the hike, she began singing with the rest of the campers and was amazed that she not only finished the entire hike, but also had fun. This activity let her bolster her confidence in herself. She now believed that if she tried, she could succeed.
On the last night of camp at the “Closing Night Campfire” the older sister began sobbing. Her counselors immediately consoled her and asked what was wrong. She told them that that she didn’t really have any friends at home or in school, and this was the first time in her life that she felt true friendship.
During this 12 year old girl’s camp experience she not only overcame her fears, but she also gained confidence in herself. This experience will provide her a pathway to independence and leadership.
This is only one example of the many amazing things that happen at Camp Mary White with these young women. These girls are learning life skills to help them develop confidence in themselves, as well as how to interact with others while developing an affinity for nature. The girls also create a sense of trust and community with other campers, as well as counselors and other staff members.
The camperships awarded to these girls provide them with a life changing experience, and an unforgettable summer.