Urban Promise - Building a city of promise...one child at a time.

Archive for the ‘Summer Camp’ Category

Gone Fishin’

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Syncere, 5th grader catches the first of many fish for Camp Freedom

Syncere catches the first of many for Camp Freedom

It’s not the average excursion for your inner-city summer camp but nearly everyday Camp Freedom director Tony Vega has been taking his kids fishing on the Delaware River. These daily trips to the river have been providing a great opportunity to the Kids of Camden who may not be able to experience fishing.

We can also see that the benefits of this are not just the new experiences but the influence it is having on the kids lives.

“I like fishing at camp because we have to do a lot of waiting. While I wait it gives me time to think about my anger and why I am angry. But then the moment I catch a fish, I forget that I was ever angry today.”

John Farmer, 8th grader

Celebrating 25 years of summer camps

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012


I love the first day of summer camp.

And this year, I’m even more excited as we celebrate our 25th anniversary in the city of Camden.

The beginning of camp always begins the same way for me: I get in my car, drive to each of our eight camps, meet parents, watch interns adjust to their new roles nervously, listen to energetic children exhaust their lungs while singing, and watch our StreetLeader teens assume new levels of leadership. This last part is my favorite.bruce_richard

Take Richard and Tiana, for example–they embody the UrbanPromise vision. Richard started as a camper when he was five, became a StreetLeader at 14, and now serves as a field supervisor at age 19.  ”Summers at UrbanPromise mean the world to me. I can’t stay away,” Richard told me.

Tiana, age 14, just graduated from 8th grade at our CamdenFoward School. This is her first job and first summer as a StreetLeader. “I’ve waited six years to work here,” Tiana said. “As a camp kid I couldn’t wait until I was old enough.” She’s finally made the move from camper to leader.

Our 25th summer will be special for several reasons. Each day, more than 500 children and teens will enjoy healthy, free breakfast and lunch, recreation, Bible time, arts and crafts, and trips to the swimming pool and rollerskating rink. More importantly, 100 teens and young college-aged students will learn leadership by directing camp activities and mentoring the younger children in their communities. And I will watch them grow in their faith, vision, and capacity to impact and motivate the next generation of Camden’s children to do the same.

God bless,

Dr. Bruce Main

P.S. Click here to sponsor a child so they can participate in on of our FREE summer camps in the city!

Find out how to give a day of PEACE…

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011


Forty-eight homicides so far this year, aggravated assault is up 45-percent! This month Camden was named the second most dangerous city in the United States.

These statistics send a clear message that something needs to change. Vulnerable children must get off the streets between 3:00-6:00 p.m.

That’s why I am excited about Albert Vega’s vision for a new UrbanPromise AfterSchool Program in North Camden.

Albert grew up in North Camden, attended our AfterSchool Program, worked as a teen leader and graduated from Eastern University on an UrbanPromise scholarship. He embodies the UrbanPromise vision.

camp_joy_2This past September Albert and his team created a safe place for North Camden’s children by opening Camp Joy in an old church building. Even with sparse supplies, no vehicle and a borrowed classroom, the team is establishing a refuge for neighborhood kids. What Albert’s team lacks in provisions, they make up for in passion and vision.

At this year’s end, I need you to follow Albert’s lead and do something special for the children of Camden. I need you to buy a day of peace for the children at Camp Joy.

“How does one buy a day of peace?” you ask.

It’s simple. Each day a child or teen enters a place of peace-a sacred place that provides safety from bullies, gangs, and peer pressure-at one of UrbanPromise’s programs.

I need to provide 365 days of peace to 30 children who attend Camp Joy. Here’s what it costs us: $1 to offer a day of peace for one child in Albert’s after school program. Make a gift of $30 and provide a month of peace. Or perhaps you can provide two months for $60-or maybe an entire year for $360.

And here’s the best part, we have a generous donor that is offering a dollar-for-dollar match through December 31, 2011. You give a dollar and UrbanPromise receives two dollars!

DONATE NOW: http://upusa.servicenetwork.com/Display.asp?Page=peace&adcode=A1211C

As we sing “Peace on Earth” this Christmas season, let’s remember that we can honor the Prince of Peace—Jesus Christ—by creating peace for Camden youth year-round.

Blessings to you and your family this holiday season,

Dr. Bruce Main

Bringing a new language to the youth of Camden…

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

At the age of 10, Michaela Pereira had a hearing aid surgically implanted in the cochlear of her inner ear.  That operation changed her life.

“I was born deaf,” Michaela said rather matter-of-factly.  “Sure, I always had hearing aids as a kid, but I had difficulty understanding speech,  I only heard sounds.  The cochlear implant helped me process speech and sign language played a big role with communication.”e3

Michaela discovered the challenges of living in two very different worlds–the world of the hearing and the world of the deaf. “The first big challenge of my life was finding my identity,” she continued. “Yes, I’m part of the deaf culture, but I also function within the hearing community.  Sometimes those cultures are very conflicting.  Sometimes it’s hard to know where I belong.”

However, and heroically, this past June Michaela took on one more challenge.  As a Communication Major at Azusa Pacific University, she decided to tithe the summer between her junior and senior year at UrbanPromise in Camden.

Donate online: https://www.servicenetwork.com/olg/upusa-e/Donate.asp?Frequency=Monthly&Code=A811

“At first I was a little afraid that I would not have the ability to communicate with the kids,” she confided.  “But I’m learning that I don’t always have to communicate through words—hugs, smiles, and a helping hand bridge the gaps.”

But last Monday Michaela made history at UrbanPromise.

She started a Sign Language Class for 8 StreetLeaders—they’re our teen aged leaders who work as tutors, coaches, mentors and role models for the younger children in our many Summer Camps.  This year over 65 teens are working at UrbanPromise!  Instead of running the streets after work just to play or sleep, our teens can now enter a new world.  They are learning a new language and experiencing the caring instructions of Michaela.

Megan was the first student.  “I always thought sign language was strange, maybe weird, but interesting,” said our 16 year old, a third year StreetLeader.  “One day it will be great to have a conversation with a deaf person.  It’s a great new language and I want to learn it.”

And Megan is learning.  First the alphabet–then the words and sentences.

“Yesterday we were on our swim trip with the children,” added Megan with a grin. “So Michaela started teaching me words like ‘swim,’ ‘sun,’ and ‘water.’  It was really incredible!  I‘ve never been so excited.”

Teaching teens about new worlds, new languages, and new challenges is part of the UrbanPromise vision and experience.  Hosting remarkable interns like Michaela allows UrbanPromise to offer the youth of Camden these incredible and unique opportunities.

You can help me keep the several hundred young people like Megan off the streets of Camden this summer, helping them be involved in life enriching programs like sign photography, dance, cooking, and Bible Study–and now even sign language.

For just $25 per day UrbanPromise can employ a teen like Megan and help her experience a remarkable role model like Michaela.
Help employ a teen for $125 a week, $500 a month or $1,000 for the summer.

Thank you in advance for your support!

Dr. Bruce Main

Donate online:

UrbanPromise intern creates mural with students

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

Hope Mead, a 19 year old artist from Freeville, New York, who spent this past school year as a Mission Year intern with Urban Promise graced our campus this summer with a beautiful mosaic tile wall mural.

During her first weekend in Camden last Fall she encountered the work of tile mural artist Isaiah Zagar and fell in love with his work. Tagging along with him for a few days, he put her to work and then commissioned her to “go out and make art in the world!”
Volunteering at Woodrow Wilson High School in Camden, just down the street from Urban Promise, her first mural took shape with the art students there, a 6 foot by 25 foot depiction of student faces along a hallway. Raising money for all her own supplies, she then was inspired to work with our StreetLeaders this summer to add her colorful designs to the wall along our parking lot.

With help from fellow intern, Krista Reimer and our hardworking StreetLeaders, Hope has made her mark not only in the hearts of her students and coworkers, but in a very concrete way by beautifying our surroundings. Hope is currently a freshman studying art education at Messiah College in Grantham, PA.

Hope, and thank you for sharing your gifts with us!

UrbanPromise All Camp Day 8/7/08

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

A Contemporary Saint

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

Tyrone (camper), David (camper), Mary (UrbanPromise Intern) and Nomaris (camper) enjoy another fun filled day at UrbanPromse’s Camp Spirit.


It was testimony time at our weekly worship service with the summer interns. The
impressive and energetic young people, who volunteer to help UrbanPromise, always enjoy the time when they get to share the events of the prior week. There are always lots of laughs and spontaneous shouts of encouragement. 

This year was different when Mary struggled to her feet. “The doctor gave me
the bad news eight days before I was supposed to come to Camden.”

Everyone became quiet. Mary is one of our 45 college interns who volunteered this
summer. She is a dean’s list student at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California studying Social Work. She had our attention.

“My doctor told me that my joints were disintegrating rapidly—knees and ankles primarily. My muscular dystrophy would allow me only about 5-hours day on my feet–or less. I would need periods of rest.”

For the past week our staff and children had all watched Mary struggle to walk around the UrbanPromise campus leaning heavily on her cane. But Mary would not be deterred. and she never complained.

“I thought about not coming to Camden,” she continued, “wondering what value I would be to an organization that works with such energetic kids. But I really believed I was supposed to come! So God opened doors and I sensed I had important work to do; besides, my friends, my church, and my family were all very supportive of my making the trip.”

The demands on our summer interns are strenuous. Our young men and women work long hours with energetic kids, walk long city blocks in the hot sun and humidity, and stay up until the wee morning hours planning exciting activities for our kids. Then they bunk in our cramped row homes and apartments (without air conditioning!)–not
the best conditions for someone whose health is in decline.

“I can’t coach basketball. I can’t walk kids home. I can’t lead the charge at the swim trips,” she continued. “But, I’m delighted that the children have begun to ask me questions about my cane and my limp. The conversations we have are amazing—conversations about faith and pain and God, and, often, about courage.”

“I now realize that God is working through what I thought were my weaknesses. Children in Camden relate to my vulnerabilities.”

Certainly, Mary’s testimony about courage and perseverance was a challenge to all of us last Sunday night. She reminded me and the others how God turns our perceived weaknesses into amazing opportunities to move beyond the superficial and connect with young people at a deeper level—a level that can not be reached if there is no trust, no respect, or no ability to identify.

For the last six weeks Mary and her colleagues have been running our day camps, coaching basketball teams, mentoring those who are still shaky in their school work, teaching bible verses, loving and sometimes just listening. Interns like Mary receive no financial compensation; they pay their own travel expenses, and they work long hours in South Jersey’s heat and humidity. I’m sure you’ll agree with me, they are contemporary saints.

Dr. Bruce Main
President, UrbanPromise

Water Day at UrbanPromise Summer Camp

Saturday, July 26th, 2008
It’s amazing how much fun kids can have with a couple of buckets and some water!