For more than 100 years, Camp Mary Orton has been serving children and families in central Ohio. Over the years a lot has changed, but the core, the mission has remained. Sure, campers no longer get their milk straight from a cow, thanks to the invention of refrigeration, but generations of Weinland Park youth continue the tradition of spending their summers at the 167-acre Columbus camp.
The camp, run by the Godman Guild Association, offers character building, outdoor adventure, and summer camp programs for Columbus inner-city youth at virtually no cost. Combined with their other services including youth leadership development, educational and recreational programs, and team building, over 100,000 central Ohio residents have benefited from Camp Mary Orton services since 2000.
“Coming here is a big neighborhood tradition in Weinland Park. I’ve seen generations come through here and sometimes campers become counselors. This is more than a camp. We are an educational bridge over the summer. They have fun but we also enhance literacy, teach body awareness, and more,” said K.D. Fuller, director of the Summer Youth Empowerment Program.
The camp has proven to be a very positive experience in the lives of Weinland Park youth, with the exposure to nature being transformative.
“We are committed to the Weinland Park neighborhood. Here we offer something they could never otherwise afford or experience. They get off the bus and they are disgusted by bugs and by the end of the summer they don’t worry about them. It’s amazing to see the transformation. Without camp they would just be sitting indoors. Here they get two meals a day and we keep them involved, engaged, and off the streets,” said Marci Ryan, executive vice president of Camp Mary Orton.
Ninety percent of the Summer Youth Empowerment Program (SYEP) campers pay only $2 dollars for the 8-week camp. The Columbus Foundation and Supporting Foundations are proud to support the efforts of Camp Mary Orton. This summer, 160 children were able to take advantage of SYEP. The camp is currently working to raise funds to renovate the main lodge and make energy improvements.
“Our goal is to educate and empower kids to do things they thought they couldn’t. This is a place for youth to challenge and improve themselves. You see the smiles, the learning, and kids enjoying green space. It makes me very proud and happy,” said Ryan.
Learn more and donate to the Godman Guild Association and Camp Mary Orton via their PowerPhilanthropy portrait.
Information about local nonprofits is available 24/7 through the Foundation’s online resource, PowerPhilanthropy, which is available to everyone who wants to be more informed about the nonprofits they care about. PowerPhilanthropy makes it easy to donate to the causes you care about at columbusfoundation.org/p2/.