I am excited to share with you all this special report from Kevin Tobin, newly retired operator of Passages Adventure Camp, about the 2023 activity of the Christian Wood Scholarship Fund. This fund is supported by Friends of the James River Park through the Wood River Run, which we will be hosting our third iteration of on April 27th 2024. Kevin’s report really captures the spirit of the Wood River Run, and why it is such an important event to us. Thank you to everyone who participated in the Wood River Run in 2022 and 2023. Please keep an eye out for more information about the 2024 run and enjoy this guest blog from Kevin Tobin.
In the 30 years Passages has been in the business of Making Kids Tired we have never been able to deliver more scholarships than this year. The profoundly positive impact of the Passages experience on the confidence and world-view of people in their most formative years should be available to all who have the desire. Through the efforts and generosity of Dominion Energy, The Friends of James River Park and supporters of the Wood River Run, this mission advanced by leaps and bounds.
Asking for help, applying for assistance, sharing household income and personal hardship can feel understandably demoralizing. We do our very best to make this process as smooth and painless as possible. We work smart and hard to provide the best possible experience but also protect the identities of these families. Our Camp Registrar walks each family through the online Scholarship Application as well as the Camper Registration process. We had rolling enrollment and awarded scholarships as quickly as applications came in.
Our Staff are not told who is at Passages as a result of a scholarship. It’s simply not necessary. Kids are kids. All our Staff need to know about our Campers is their names, their ages and any allergies! We train our Staff to treat each Camper as if their parents had to rub their last two nickels together to pay for this week of Camp.
If we were not able to offer a full scholarship to a family, we gave financial assistance – to EVERY family who requested it. Please read that sentence again. No one was turned away and we have YOU to thank for that. There were a few families with multiple children who applied. Not having to select one child over another in a household for this remarkable opportunity was a relief to us, even more so for the Parents of these Campers.
Even when the scholarships are awarded there remains challenges. Due to the understandable instability of a number of our Camper Families, some simply do not show up for the 1st day of Camp. We worked with two Social Service Agencies this summer to help coordinate transportation to a number of our scholarships Campers. We require our Campers to bring a water bottle each day. Many do not. We ask families to provide their own lunch on the days of the week we do not have a cookout or pizza party. Many do not. We ask our Campers to come to Camp with shoes they can wear in the water. Many do not. As with every other Camper at Passages, we double-check for these things every morning when each Camper hops out of the vehicle. As with every other Camper, we are able to offer spare water bottles, spare pairs of shoes and even emergency lunch supplies so everyone has a chance to begin the day on a level playing field and get right to the business at hand – having the time of their lives.
We invite Camper families to join us every Friday afternoon for Parent’s Day so they can witness first-hand the incredible achievements and pride our Campers have earned. In these cases, many are unable. As with every other Passages Camper, they are assured our Staff will make sure EVERYONE has guardians on-hand to cheer for them at Parent’s Day as they rock climb, rappel, zip-line and whitewater kayak. Most often, our Campers who come to us by way of scholarships draft particular Staff to serve as their guardians for the afternoon during Parent’s Day. We are honored and thrilled to be selected in this way. For us, this is the ULTIMATE compliment.
This year we have a Camper who attended our Advance Climbing Camp after achieving the previous three Levels of our Rock and River Master Program. This is a feat in and of itself but what makes this truly special is the drive and desire for this Camper to join the Passages Staff in the near future. We have long dreamt a scholarshipped Camper could join our Staff and now it’s happening! We intend for there to be many more in the future, as we ALL benefit from this.
Words from Parents & Campers:
“Just wanted to again say thank you so much for the scholarship opportunity. The kids have not stopped talking about Camp and we are amazed at the confidence this experience has given them. We are so grateful and will be leaving reviews and spreading the word about this great camp. All the best to you and the rest of the Staff.”
“Passages is the best part of the outdoors!” Scholarshipped Camper
“Passages’ COUNSELORS are GREAT to work with. THEY are compassionate, considerate, ENCOURAGING, SUPPORTIVE, the positive list goes on-and-on.” Scholarshipped Camper
I thank you. All of our Staff thank you. Our scholarshipped Campers and their families thank you. The Campers and their families who did not request scholarships or assistance thank you because the opportunity to learn and meet challenges and have fun with people who come from varying backgrounds is value-shaping.
Christian Wood is watching over all of us, no doubt thrilled to witness his spirit and passions continue to thrive in others.
We ALL won.
Owner : Peak Experiences / Passages Adventure Camp