Summer camp holds a special place in a lot of our hearts. It’s a time to build lifelong friendships, to make lasting memories, and to enjoy time in the great outdoors.
But at UCYC, a Christian camp and conference center in Prescott, Arizona, it has always been about something even bigger. Each year, 10,000+ campers at UCYC raise money for a carefully-vetted nonprofit organization as part of the camp’s mission to change lives. When we found out 1MISSION had been chosen as this year’s featured charity, we were pumped. But we never could have imagined what these campers would accomplish in just one summer.
Each week when camp is in session, groups of campers bid against each other for the chance to have dinner with a handful of summer staffers. But in addition to dinner, the winning bid also includes a secret perk – something fun that staffers agree to do to raise money for charity, like singing on command, sharing top-secret handshakes, or dancing.
Derek Beauchamp, a camp programmer who is beloved by campers, got in on the fun by offering to shave his head, and a winning bid of $1000 came in. Then Evan, an emcee, bravely agreed to be the target for paintballers, and campers gave $500 for the 30-second privilege. One night, students were led out onto a field where they could buy pies for $1 a piece, which they were then free to smash in other people’s faces. Through this pie fight alone, $900 was raised for the cause.
“We are so thankful for this partnership and look forward to our 1MISSION trip in October as well as future summer 1MISSION campaigns,” said UCYC program director Amberly Neese.
Through it all, we had 1MISSION staff on hand to raise awareness about the need for safe, secure housing for families in poverty. Bios of the families who had earned houses were posted on the walls in the main gathering room, where campers could read about each family and track progress over time. We also installed barrio houses at the camp – interactive structures campers could walk into and immerse themselves in the experience of living in substandard housing in places like Mexico, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.
“It was amazing to partner with an organization that was so close to home,” said summer staffer Kaylee Savoia. “The children were able to connect with the mission and understand what it was for.”
When it was all said and done, summer campers at UCYC have raised $46,000 – a camp record – and fully funded seven houses for families in poverty!
But they’re not done yet. Not by a long shot. Campers are bringing passion and creativity back to their schools and churches, families and friends. So far, 11 campaigns have been launched, which will run through the school year until next summer. Already, those campaigns have raised an additional $2,000 – well on their way to funding additional houses for families who have earned them.
Help these campers keep up the momentum by donating to the UCYC team today!