On a sunny summer day, groups of smiling children shared laughter and bliss as they danced, painted, and played in the joyous, fun-filled experience that is Camp Noah. Designed to help elementary-age children whose communities and lives have been impacted by disaster and/or trauma, Camp Noah provides a safe, caring, and fun environment where children can process their experiences through creative activities and play.
The Volunteers Who Make Hope Happen
Julia Menzo, director of community outreach for Lutheran Congregational Services of Liberty Lutheran, helped organize this year’s camp at New Creation Lutheran Church in North Philadelphia. Julia credits much of the camp’s success to tremendous support from the Lutheran network and partnerships with local organizations. “We are so grateful for the partners who made this Camp possible,” says Julia.
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Thank you for your support! Support from the Lutheran Network and partnerships with local organizations included:
- St Peter’s Lutheran Church, Lafayette Hill
- St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Glenside
- St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Philadelphia
- The Core Group, Plymouth Meeting
- Reading Lutheran Parish
- Southeastern Pennsylvania Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (SEPA VOAD)
- Reformation Lutheran Church, Media
- Upper Dublin Lutheran Church
- The Manor at York Town
- Paul’s Run Retirement Community
- Staff at Liberty Lutheran
- Build a Bridge international
- Asociacion Puertorriqueños en Marcha
- United Mission for Relief and Development
- Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management
- Philadelphia Prevention Partnership
- St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Dallas, PA
As they attended camp for one week, the children enjoyed painting, singing, dancing and more. After a Thursday morning full of song and dance, the children sat down to refuel with a home-cooked pasta lunch contributed generously by Paul’s Run staff and residents. With their colorful Camp Noah t-shirts glowing just as brightly as their everlasting smiles, it was clear that at Camp Noah, children full of energy and enthusiasm felt comfortable to start new conversations and make new friends.
“What was your favorite subject in school?” asks Caleb, a soon-to-be fifth grader, to a Camp Noah volunteer. As Caleb shares that he enjoys math, and happens to be very good at it, he laughs reluctantly as he also shares his anticipation for the fifth-grade PSSA exams. Caleb has two sisters who also attended Camp Noah, and his mother, Margarita, was the Camp’s site coordinator.
Facing Fears, Grieving Losses, and Building Resilient Futures
Margarita first found out about Camp Noah this past summer from her pastor, and she says it’s been such a wonderful experience to be a part of. “It’s incredible to see how much these children open up from the beginning of camp to its end. They’ve been through a lot.” she reflects.
Kathleen Kerin, team leader at Camp Noah shares similar sentiments.
We made a difference. And more importantly, the community, including the parents of the campers, heard that they were not forgotten. And they were loved.Kathleen Kerin, team leader at Camp Noah
As Camp Noah took place at New Creation Church in North Philadelphia, which has become home to hundreds of families who fled from Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, the program provided a safe and supportive environment where children who have undergone significant trauma and stress felt encouraged to face their fears, grieve their losses, and build resilient futures. Camp Noah provides tools to help this community recover.
If you’d like to give hope and build resiliency for the families affected by Hurricane Maria, visit our Giving Page by clicking here and give your gift today.
“The children have so much fun here. You can see it in all of the activities they do,” says Margarita.
It’s really nice to see the joy that Camp Noah brings to them right now, and even more, I hope this experience helps them in each of their futures.Margarita Santiago, Site Coordinator at Camp Noah
Margarita smiles as she watches the children paint brightly colored arks that they later took home with them to share with family and friends.
Returning home each day with more than their take-home crafts, Camp Noah came to a close as each child went back to their everyday lives with courage, hope, and the ability to build a resilient future.
LCS wants to especially thank Pastor Lyzette Rios and her council chair Awilda Sanchez of New Creation Lutheran Church, for making Camp Noah possible this year.