LifeCamp Summer Camp Offers Newark Kids Life Lessons and More
Joanna Gagis talks with Eddie Franz, Director of LifeCamp, a summer day camp that takes kids out of the city of Newark and puts them on 90 acres of farmland. The camp provides the opportunity for campers to learn life skills and brush up on their academics, art, and athletics.
"My next guest is here to talk about what he's doing to help empower the youth and the greater Newark area. His name is Eddie Franz. He's from LifeCamp. You are the camp director there at LifeCamp? I am. In Pottersville, New Jersey? Yes ma'am. Tell us about LifeCamp. What is its mission? Its mission is to be a Summer enrichment program for inner city kids. We started... I came aboard 29 years ago. And it was basically just a camp where they took kids from Newark and brought 'em out to the woods in the hope that that was gonna sort of change their lives. And in some cases, maybe it did, but they didn't have a program that I thought was adaptable to those kids all year round. So that's what we did over the course of time, trying to make that happen. What is the benefit to these kids who live in Newark, and the greater Newark area, of getting out of the city, getting out of the urban area, and into green land, into... onto farms? What is the benefit for them? To me, most of the kids, when I ask them what they would... where they would be if they weren't at camp, they all... not all say, but about 95 percent say they'd have to stay inside given the conditions of some places where they live, where their, you know, parents are working all day, they're not gonna let the kids roam around outside. The risk of gang activity? Gang activity... Drugs? The whole operation. You know. Anything that they can run into. Simply just not having somebody keep eyeing 'em all day long, you know. And so the idea of getting 'em out is an important thing. But to also add to the fact that we do things that supplement what happens during the school year is an added bonus to these kids. Such as what? Give us an example. Our program involves three different areas. Academic, athletic, and artistic. So it is like a school. It's a six week school. So in their seven period day, they might have an arts and crafts class, graphic arts class. They might have a physical thing where they're gonna spend 90 minutes in a pool. Learn how to swim. Riding bikes. And on the academic side, we have a values class for the older kids. We have a reading program. All those kinds of things are interspersed to make sure the kids get a little piece of everything. Alright Eddy, I'm thinking kids, you know, have... they look for it all year to Summer break, right? Right..."