Summer is here! Even as we write this, kids from Tohoku children’s homes are creating incredible memories at summer camp - thanks to the ongoing generosity of the Global Giving community! It’s another great summer of hiking, swimming, climbing, crafts, campfires, and lots of other healthy fun in the outdoors. With the help of supporters like you, we have invited 100 at-risk children to this summer’s camps!
This is our third summer providing outdoor camps for some of the most vulnerable children from the disaster affected areas. The continuity of this project has allowed us to see real progress from season to season.
Building Trust, Communication, Leadership
Many children are now camp veterans. We see returning campers opening up more, communicating more freely with us and with their fellow campers. They are becoming true leaders, helping new campers feel welcome and helping them understand what camp is all about. Together, we are creating a culture of support, trust, and FUN for children who haven’t had nearly enough of those.
It’s not only the children making progress. We are building stronger relationships with the staff of the children’s homes, involving them far more in every aspect of the camps. In June we visited several children’s homes in Tohoku, to learn more about the kids’ daily life and struggles, while seeking advice and listening to the hopes of their caretakers. The home staff made it clear that they want to be active participants in the camps, which is wonderful. They told us that at camp they can see the children in a new light, and deepen their relationships in ways they don’t always have time or energy for in their daily life.
The home staff also stressed the effects that camp has long after summer is past. For example, at camp we very deliberately model - and expect - kind, polite, and respectful speech. It simply makes for a more pleasant camp atmosphere, and reduces the number of conflicts arising between campers. But the effects don’t stop there. The staff of several homes reported that the children continue these communication habits after camp, influencing the atmosphere and relationships of the entire children’s home!
Climbing to the Next Level Together!
Seeing how far the ripples go has inspired us all to keep reaching for more. We are excited to announce the birth of a new nonprofit called Mirai no Mori (“forest of the future” in Japanese). Living Dreams remains a key supporter of the project. English Adventure, the company that operated the camps to date in cooperation with Living Dreams, will continue to provide major support for camp execution.
However, NPO Mirai no Mori will allow us to take this project to another level entirely. Mirai no Mori will focus solely on empowering youth living in children’s welfare homes, through life-changing outdoor experiences. The youth of the disaster affected areas of Tohoku remain at the center of the project, and of this GlobalGiving campaign. At the same time, Mirai no Mori will reach out to at-risk children in other parts of Japan, who face many of the same challenges. By applying the lessons and experiences of our camps for Tohoku children to society at large, we hope that something beautiful will be born out of tragedy. Please continue with us on this journey!
In our next report, we’ll share photos and stories to convey the fun and growth from this summer’s Tohoku camps! Until then, thank you so much for making this project happen, and changing these children’s lives in real and wonderful ways.