Camp In A Box promotes literacy in Appalachia

With in-person camp on hold again because of COVID-19, Christian Appalachian Project’s (CAP) Youth Empowerment Services (YES) Program is still bringing the magic of camp to children in Appalachia through Camp In A Box. The Camp In A Box initiative was started by staff and volunteers last year to provide campers boxes of supplies and instructions for camp activities to do at home.

“Since we are not able to have overnight camps again this summer, we wanted to stay connected with our kids, and we wanted to make Camp In A Box 2.0 even better than last year with more activities,” said Liz Phelps, manager of CAP’s Camp AJ, which serves children in Rockcastle, Jackson, and McCreary Counties. In addition to the activities, YES also hosted a book drive so youth books could be added to each box.

“We wanted to encourage summer reading, get children away from computer screens, and provide opportunities to connect with regional authors by fostering an appreciation for artists from Appalachia,” Phelps said. Titles included were Where the Wild Things Are, When I Was Young in the Mountains, and Eli the Good.

While some of the authors are not from Appalachia, their stories are about the natural beauty and challenges that children and families may face anywhere. “We have been thrilled at the response from our donors and friends who have sent books,” Phelps said. She added she is also thankful for Save the Children in Jackson County, which sponsored books for children there.

One mother in Rockcastle County shared with Camp AJ staff the excitement her children had for the books they received as part of their Camp In A Box.

“Thank you for the books you sent. My daughter has already had me read Where the Wild Things Are three times and my son has already read most of his book today,” she said. “He just asked yesterday if we thought we could find the book (Eli the Good) for him because they started reading it in class, and he didn’t think they would finish it before school ended and he really wanted to finish it. You guys are great! I know two kids that are as happy as can be today.”

The last year of living through a pandemic has forced all of us to learn to adapt and adjust to life in a different way. Camp In A Box is another way to bring part of the magic moments that make the camp experience special to children.

“That connection to keep our young people engaged and inspired through another summer to provide hopes of a 2022 summer that is off the charts,” Phelps said. “Since YES is all about empowering our young people, I think that is what motivated us to start Camp In A Box. Plus, we miss the kids too!”

By Brianna Stephens

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