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Camp St. Vincent - Baltimore’s only Summer Camp for Homeless Children

Camp St Vincent

History of Camp St Vincent

undated photo of children en route to camp

undated photo of children en route to camp

Did you know that one of Baltimore’s longest-running traditions is a summer camp for children?
 
Camp St. Vincent has been in continuous operation since 1907, when it was founded at the Cloud Cap country estate in Paradise - near Catonsville, MD. It was an age of  growing awareness about the effects on children of living in poverty in hot, noisy polluted cities. St. Vincent de Paul was one a handful of pioneers across the US to to create “fresh air camps.”  A 1907 story from the Baltimore Sun describes the camp through the lens of Edwardian ideals:

. . .  children are given an oportunity to enjoy a two weeks' stay in the country, where healthful food and a big roomy house and all of the playthings that make life worth living for both boys and girls make those 14 days a time never to be forgotten by the children.

In the intervening years, Camp St. Vincent has had several homes, and evolved through many iterations. The one constant has been an emphasis on providing  a healthy summer camp experience to underprivileged children.

Camp St. Vincent Today

While Camp St. Vincent has always sought to serve lower-income children,  in 2004, the camp program was redesigned to fill a void in summer services for homeless children. Working with the school systems for both Baltimore City and Baltimore County, St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore developed a structure that exclusively focuses on the unique needs of homeless children - and we are currently the only Baltimore-area camp that serves only homeless children.

The Affordable Housing crisis has set an increasing number of families with children among the ranks of the homeless.

a child reads during summer camp

A camper during reading time

In 2008, Camp St. Vincent moved to its current home in Patterson Park, a 137-acre jewel nicknamed, "Best Backyard in Baltimore." Throughout the summer, an average of  250 homeless children -- ages 5 to 14  --from shelters and transitional housing programs in Baltimore City and Baltimore County spend their days with camp fun.

The camp curriculum helps homeless children develop coping and social skills that lessen the impact of being homeless.  And since all of the children at Camp St. Vincent are homeless, they begin to understand they are not alone, and develop relationships with other campers who share their experience.

Camp also provides daily breakfast, lunch and snacks as well as any clothing a child may need to participate in camp - such as tennis shoes, bathing suits, shorts, and socks.

Days at Camp St. Vincent include including swimming, sports, art and dance. There are field trips to local spots such as the Baltimore Museum of Industry and the American Visionary Art Museum, the Naval Academy, and bowling and rollerskating. Perhaps most importantly, campers also receive academic enrichment in math and reading to reduce the summer learning loss that is so profound for homeless children.

Apply to be a Camp Counselor Volunteer

Volunteer to help lead summer camp groups with Camp St. Vincent. You must be at least 15 years old AND have completed your freshman year of high school. Volunteers must commit to at least two consecutive weeks of camp

Camp is held Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Patterson Park. The summer  2019 camp will start on June 24 and end on August 9. Please note, Camp will be closed on July 4th and July 19th.

To volunteer please complete either a New or Returning application. Complete all sections and identify which two consecutive weeks you are available.   Volunteers are placed on a first-come-first served basis.  All new counselors will be contacted to schedule a mandatory training prior to volunteering at camp.

Please complete and submit the these forms to apply