Following chaos in daily life, young boy finds peace at Camp Gifford

Apr 21, 2021

James’ life had turned topsy-turvy over the past six months.  He had moved halfway across the country with his mother and siblings after the mother had said enough to years of spousal abuse by their dad. 

With the father at work one day, James and the rest of his family quickly packed their bags and rushed to the nearby bus station.  There, they began the long trek to escape fear and anxiety.  The mother had tried to hide everything from her children, but they all knew what was happening at home.

Though James, 12, was happy that his mother was safe, he was nervous.  He was in a new state, lived in a new apartment, had no friends, and was a month away from attending a new school.

To help alleviate the fear of the unknown, the mother contacted The Salvation Army about summer camp.  James and his siblings qualified for scholarships.  However, James had never been to camp, so his new surroundings, coupled with being away from his mother in the aftermath of all that had taken place, made James unsure about attending camp.  

As his mother registered the children for Camp Gifford, James remained by the car looking down at the ground.  One of the staff, who had been joking with some of the nearby campers waiting in line for the bus, noticed James’ hesitation and introduced himself to the young boy.  After a brief talk, the counselor introduced James to some of the campers.  After a few minutes, the young boy began to feel a little more comfortable.  By the time his mom said so long, James was ready to get on the bus with his siblings and the kids he had just met.

As night fell on the first day of camp, James had sung all the fun camp songs and laughed at the skits.  He enjoyed his new friends and even the food!  It was a huge surprise because tv shows made camp food look bad.  Here, though, the food was good, the cook was nice, and there were ALWAYS seconds!

During the week, James learned how to shoot a bow and arrow, and swim in a lake.  He also played many games, including one called “capture the flag” – his new favorite game.  One day, he captured the flag to win the game, which made him the hero of his cabin for that day. 

James also attended chapel, where he listened to stories about a man named Jesus.  James knew a little about this man but had many questions for his counselor.  Before camp closed, James gave his life to Jesus, as did one of his siblings.  As the campers were packing to go home, one of his new friends invited James to youth night at his church which was close to where James resided.  

Upon leaving camp with their mother, James and his siblings sang various songs that they learned at camp and talked about all the fun they experienced.  James also told his mom about his friend’s invitation to youth night at his church, and she began taking all her children to the weekly music and troops programs. Soon, James’s family was even attending church.    

If you believe in the importance of summer camp and the lasting impact it can have on young children, please consider giving a financial gift to Camp Gifford so other vulnerable boys and girls can enjoy camp.  For more info, or to give a tax-deductible donation, please visit 

Recent Stories

Get Involved

Subscribe to receive more stories, directly in your inbox!


A gift to The Salvation Army helps someone in your community.

Give Now



Do Good in your community

Find Worship

Join us throughout the week for worship, fellowship, Bible study, meals, community service and fun.