Article20 Camp Moss Hollow's Michael Shirley-003

Camp Moss Hollow Campers. Michael Shirley said the camp’s goal is to have about 80 to 100 children per week.

(Updated 5/12/2015) Family Matters of Greater Washington gives local children, primarily those coming from low-income households, the chance to experience life away from the District through Camp Moss Hollow.

According to the Family Matters site, Camp Moss Hollow is located in Markham, Va. amid the Shenandoah Valley, and provides year-round educational, recreational, and socialization services for children and youths seven to 14 years old from the metropolitan area. The camp features hiking and nature trails, rustic cabins, an academic pavilion, large swimming pool, tent camping and a two-acre lake for fishing and canoeing.

Michael Shirley, Camp Moss Hollow’s program site director, is a living example of the success of the camp.

“We try to take the poor and give them the opportunity to come to camp to be exposed to very talented, dedicated staff,” he told the AFRO. “We expose them to role models, we also expose them to kids in other neighborhoods so that they can mix and mingle with kids in other parts of the city to see that they are no different.”

Shirley said the camp’s goal is to have about 80 to 100 children per week. “If we get 80-100 kids, that’s our goal. If we get more than that that’s even .”

The camp is run largely on donations from its “Send a Kid to Camp” campaign.

As a child, Shirley grew up in Kenilworth Courts Apartments in Northeast D.C., a neighborhood not known as the land of opportunity.

Camp Moss Hollow Campers. Michael Shirley said the camp’s goal is to have about 80 to 100 children per week.

“I would have never had the opportunity to do the things that I love if I stayed in the city,” he said, referring to his love of nature, art, and science.

He said the camp exposes its participants to things they normally wouldn’t get in school.

“It was a very positive for me,” Shirley said, adding that the camp helped him with public speaking. “If it wasn’t for those positive people … I probably would have missed out on a lot.”

The positive role models he met set the foundation for Shirley to become the poster child for the camp since he first got involved with Family Matters of Greater Washington, then called Family and Child Services, camps in 1960. Shirley said he was also one of the first children to set foot on Camp Moss Hollow when it opened in 1966 in Markham, Va.

Shirley said his love and dedication to the camp enabled him to progress through several positions at the organization’s camps, including kitchen boy, counselor, and teacher to become a vital part of the camp’s success to date.

“I pretty much had every job at camp,” he said. “ camp to me is not a job.”

For more information on Camp Moss Hollow, visit http://familymattersdc.org/index.php/what_we_do_matters/yd_the_hollow/.

To donate to the “Send a Kid to Camp” campaign, visit:  https://www.crowdrise.com/SAKTC/fundraiser/familymattersofDC.

The campaign will run until August 21.