Mr. Kennedy said he was inspired after taking a trip to Africa.
“It was shocking,” he said during his fundraising drive. “We saw AIDS orphans living on the streets. It was really sad; you knew you could not do anything to help them.”
Donations have come in the form of camp supplies, too. Many of the children come to camp with only flip-flops on their feet, so athletic shoes have been a welcome gift, as have donations of toiletries and craft supplies.
Mr. Lilienthal is trying to raise money to buy a 186-acre, fully equipped camp facility with a $1.25 million price tag. The prospective camp can sleep 300, which would allow significantly more campers to attend each session. Owning, rather than renting, a facility also would save the organization 30 percent in overhead costs, Mr. Lilienthal says.
“We could have more kids and more of an impact,” he says.
That could go a long way in altering the lives of the next generation of South African adults. The camp has an impact on the children, of course, but also helps train counselors in job skills they can use in many other fields.
“The kids are taking the information they are learning and running with it,” Mr. Lilienthal says. “It’s not like they are learning and then going back to their video games. They are talking about it with other kids and at home. They really appreciate education in any form. Another marvelous indicator is our counselors. They are getting jobs. They learn so much about leadership.”
Ultimately, Mr. Lilienthal hopes other social service groups in many African countries will use Global Camps as a model for more camps to come.
“I think realistically, you can’t have just one camp and have that kind of an impact.” he says. “I want others to copy us.”
Karen Goldberg Goff has been a reporter at The Washington Times since 1992. She currently writes feature-length stories on a variety of topics, including family issues, pop culture, health, food and technology. Follow Karen on Twitter.
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