History of Camp Horizon
Camp Horizon began in 1982 when a handful of friends, motivated to "invest in the future," chose to reach out to abused and neglected children living in foster care. They had hoped to positively influence at-risk children, while also giving back to their community.
From our humble beginnings of only 8 campers sleeping in tents at a local church parking lot, we have grown significantly, and we are planning to expand again, to reach more children with a second week of Summer Camp.
After that first weekend retreat, the founders quickly realized a dire need for a stronger partnership with the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) in order to navigate working with children living in foster care. Our campers start with us at Summer Camp from 8-11 years old and are selected as candidates by their caseworkers.
Youth in foster care are often transient. They lack consistency and stability. And so it became a high priority to consistently involve as many campers as possible by offering year-round programs. By maintaining regular contact, we provide a support system for them, and as they begin to trust and heal, they grow and mature in a healthy way.
The first programs added to the calendar included our annual holiday party,an annual Springtime family reunion and several opportunities for life skills development and recreational activities.
In 1999, we added the Leadership Development Program (LDP) for campers 12-18 who graduate on from our Summer Camp.
In 2010 we created the Camp Horizon Adult Mentoring Program (CHAMPs), designed,to guide our older campers aged 19-23 into adulthood with continued support from our team of dedicated mentors.
Since 1982, we have positively changed the life trajectory of nearly 1,500 children. Equipped with knowledge and skills they learned at Camp Horizon, these former campers will break the cycle of abuse. We hope they will become agents of powerful social change.
Initially, becoming a "family" was not an intentional goal. However, with our team of active volunteers and staffers consistently remaining a presence, it wasn't long before the children started to refer to us as a family. They often refer to each other as "sister" and "brother," and we have a Camp "mom" and "dad." For most of them, we are a surrogate family. For some of them, we are their only family.
We provide unconditional love, acceptance and guidance. We teach our campers about respect, responsibility and resilience. They learn about appropriate boundaries and self-control. We teach them how to be safe. We teach them that abuse is never a child's fault. We show them healthy love.
We show our campers that there is good in the world. We teach them that they are a promise of possibilities. It doesn't take long before they begin to believe our message. And then they begin to believe in themselves.
The Camp Horizon family proves to our campers that there is always a new and better day on the HORIZON.
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