WORD’s Summer Arts and Leadership Camp (SALC) serves up to 50 homeless children and youth, free of charge, as well as those at-risk of homelessness in the Missoula community, ages 8-14 years. This is the only annual camp of its kind in the state. The students served by this camp are typically below peer level in academics and social skill development, and have spent great personal resources coping with transient housing and the attending family and school chaos. Children whose families are in transition and who are economically disadvantaged are unable to access the same opportunities and resources that their middle-income counterparts do. Summer camp provides opportunities for students in transition to benefit from new experiences, mentoring relationships, leadership skill building, and a deeper connection with their community. In addition, camp activities are closely tied to statewide grade-specific learning targets adopted by Missoula County Public schools (MCPS).
This camp is invaluable to the youth that it serves, offering a real chance for them to strengthen and improve not just their academics, but to also improve their problem solving and social skills which often will carry them through a school year full of strife and transition on the home front. Summer Arts and Leadership Camp provides an opportunity to develop educational goals, conflict resolution skills, and positive self-esteem in homeless and at-risk youth. These skills are transferable to both the students’ home and school lives, reducing conflict and strengthening their family life as well as increasing their school success.