James “Butch” Goodwin and young campers at Family matters Camp.
Every summer, Family Matters, a social service organization in the metropolitan area, holds a summer camp in Markham, Virginia for children to get away from the noises of the city and learn outdoor survival skills, but also skills to help them become more refined individuals.
The camp was created to give at-risk youth the opportunity to get in touch with nature and take part in a positive youth development experience that includes a curriculum involving education, arts, sports, and outdoor activities. The camp has been serving D.C. youth since 1904.
However, in addition to learning how to survive the outdoors and hold oneself with proper posture, Camp Counselor, James “Butch” Goodwin, who also attended the camp as a child, told the AFRO the camp’s biggest takeaway is its family atmosphere.
“It may have been a little more for us, because growing up without fathers in our neighborhood and then coming to camp and having a counselor, who was actually a big brother or a father to us, it really put that family structure back into our lives,” he said in reflection to his days in camp when he was younger.
Goodwin, 50, attended the camp in the 1970s where he not only developed his passion for photography, but also inspiration for his company Goombay Adventures, a company that offers African American adults and children the opportunity to participate in outdoor adventure trips such as camping and climbing.
“I did this company because I knew that African Americans wanted to do more,” Goodwin said. He said his company also offers team sports.
Goodwin said the camp taught him how to survive the outdoors, be a leader and realize a whole new world beyond his neighborhood in Southeast D.C. He now sends his son, Khalid, to the camp.
“I realized there was a bigger world. I knew there was a bigger picture in life,” he said.
During the now, five day camping excursion, Camp Moss Hollow also teaches children how to show proper etiquette.
“We still teach them , but by the time the dinner party comes around, now in days, they are a little squeamish, they don’t want to walk inside with their escorts, but we encourage them to do it,” Goodwin said in reference to the culminating dinner party Moss Hollow holds for campers every year. “I wish we had more time to work with them.”
Like Goodwin, Camp Moss Hollow employs several other former campers, who attribute much of their nurturing and maturity to the brief break away from city life.
The 2015 summer session dates for Camp Moss Hollow, include:
* Session 1 – June 22 – 26 (Adventure Week)
* Session 2 – June 29 – July 2 (Spirit Week)
* Session 3 – July 6 – 17 (NG Youth Leaders Camp)
* Session 4 – July 20 – 24 (Talent Showcase Week)
* Session 5 – July 27 – 31 (CLOSED)
* Session 6 – August 3 – 7 (School Daze Week)
* Session 7 – August 8 – 15 (CLOSED)
Camp Moss Hollow receives generous support from the community through Family Matter’s “Send a Kid to Camp” campaign to help children from all economic situations enjoy an outdoor camping experience. To donate to the campaign, visit https://www.crowdrise.com/SAKTC/fundraiser/familymattersofDC. The campaign will run until August 21.