Like so many of our campers, I found my voice at CHV

In December of 2001 I was in front of my 6th grade class, presenting for the first time. I kept my eyes cast down to the floor and held my notes in front of my face, quietly reading them. Speaking in front of my peers terrified me.

Today, some of my coworkers would be surprised to hear that about me. Especially the coworkers who have seen me on stage on a camp morning singing my favorite camp song, Princess Pat, or attempting to play “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars on the ukulele at the staff talent show.

Our campers first start at Camp Harbor View the summer before 6th grade. Many of them are as shy as I was at that age. Now, add in a ferry trip to an island with 249 other kids that they don’t know and activities like sailing and rock climbing that they may have never experienced.

Since joining Camp Harbor View in 2018, I’ve met several CHV alumni who describe the 6th-grade versions of themselves – the first-time camper versions – as shy. Meeting them now, you would never expect these young people to have ever been described as shy. They’re bold and confident, sharing their ideas and thoughts without hesitation.

At Camp Harbor View, with the help of caring staff, they find their voice. Their confidence. It’s where I found mine.

Although I’ve been working at summer programs since I was 18, there was always a part of me that was the shaky 11-year-old version of myself, quietly presenting on Christmas traditions in Belgium. Under the leadership of Executive Director Lisa Fortenberry (and my caring staff), I’ve found my voice at Camp Harbor View by being challenged every day.

A few days into camp, the shy campers have met their peers and group leaders and the shell begins to crack. Our group leaders provide campers the support they need to make new friends and try new things. At the climbing wall and on the high ropes course, you hear camper and staff voices alike call out encouraging words. At the pool, you hear the gentle instructions from lifeguards as they show campers how to blow bubbles in the shallow end or perfect their diving form in the deep end.

Our staff provides a space for young people  to safely take risks, which in turn helps them to grow into themselves, building confidence and finding their voice. By the end of their session, they might perform in the talent show. And maybe in a few years, when they turn 18, they’ll lead the morning camp song.

Can an extra $800 a month lift someone out of poverty? Local nonprofits put cash to the test.

BOSTON (The Boston Globe) – Cities aren’t the only proponents of giving no-strings-attached cash to people in need. Here come the nonprofits.

The national movement, which had its local roots in Chelsea and spread to Cambridge, aims to empower low-income households with monthly stipends and settle an age-old debate about whether we can trust poor people with money instead of having them constantly jump through hoops to receive aid.

Advocates of so-called guaranteed income programs believe that low-income households know best how to lift themselves out of poverty rather than being told what to do. It’s that combination of confidence and cash that can help people move up the economic ladder.

At least three local nonprofits have launched pilots in recent months: Camp Harbor View with 50 families that are receiving $583 a month for two years; United South End Settlements with 16 families that are getting $800 a month for 18 months; and UpTogether — in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance, Harvard Business School, and others — has embarked on a research project providing nearly 1,500 families with varying amounts of money and social capital over 18 months.

Camp Harbor View joins national movement, launches guaranteed income pilot with UpTogether

50 Families will receive $7,000 per year for two years

Boston, MA – A group of Boston families are the newest champions for the impact of direct cash investments on social and economic mobility. Camp Harbor View recently launched a near $800,000 guaranteed income pilot, in partnership with anti-poverty nonprofit UpTogether, that provides 50 Boston households $7,000 each year for two years. These families are able to use the funds however they choose and do not need to pay it back.

After just five months, families are reporting greater overall financial stability. A participating parent, who wished to remain anonymous, says the program is having transformative effects on her physical and mental wellbeing as well as her financial stability.

“As a single mom, I have worked two jobs for the last six years to make ends meet. With the GI grant, I have been able to focus on my full-time job,” she said. “The time I’ve gained back has improved my focus, given me more time with my children, and allowed me to participate in professional development, which led to a promotion.”

Rooted locally, Camp Harbor View is committed to addressing the pervasive racial and economic opportunity gaps that exist in Boston.

“This pilot is about trusting and empowering families,” Camp Harbor View Chairman Jack Connors, Jr said. “I believe this will prove to be an innovative and necessary approach to partnering with families, ensuring that economic mobility is possible in our city.”

Each of the 50 enrolled families receives $583 in unrestricted cash monthly for the duration of the 24-month pilot. The participants were asked to set at least one financial goal at the start of the pilot and then they are given surveys quarterly—along with a small group of families who are not receiving funds—to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. To measure the efficacy of this two-year pilot, Camp Harbor View engaged an experienced independent evaluator to collect data and study outcomes.

The results from the pilot will have an impact beyond Boston.  In partnership with the Economic Security Project, the Camp Harbor View learnings will be part of a growing body of national research on guaranteed income programs.           

“As someone who lived in Boston for 17 years, and still loves the city, I am beyond excited to see the impact this pilot will have on families here,” said UpTogether CEO Jesús Gerena.  “At UpTogether, we know it’s not just about the impact of unrestricted cash investments on individual households, but most importantly, the exponential impact those dollars will have on entire communities.”

 

About Camp Harbor View: Camp Harbor View works with 1,000+ young Bostonians and their families each year offering a one-of-a-kind summer camp for kids in grades 6-8, year-round leadership development for teens in grades 9-12, and comprehensive family services, including college and career planning, scholarships, clinical support, and food access — all at no cost to families.

About UpTogether: UpTogether is a community, a movement, and a platform that highlights, accelerates, and invests in the initiative people in financially under-resourced communities are taking to improve their lives and move up, together. Using compelling data and personal success stories to transform stereotypes, beliefs, and policies, UpTogether champions the effort to boost long-term economic mobility in communities that have been under-served for far too long.

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Making the season bright

From Thanksgiving dinner to gifts at the holidays, this annual tradition seeks to alleviate family stress and bring kids joy. It’s one of our most meaningful programs for families and donors alike, with both experiencing the generosity of spirit in the holiday season.

Take a look at this heartwarming video to see the Camp Harbor View community’s holiday celebrations with over 400 families from start to finish.

Thanks to the generous support of hundreds of donors, partners, and volunteers, we doubled the number of families reached this year, distributing $101,800 in gift cards for parents to use to purchase their children items on their wishlist, bins with household essentials, and festive holiday supplies. Happy Holidays for all of us at Camp Harbor View!

Camp Harbor Views

On Tuesday, November 17, 2020, Camp Harbor Views – a free online experience for families, supporters, and champions of our mission – celebrated the resiliency of our community and shared our views on the past, present, and future of the organization.

Hosted by Jenny Johnson of NESN’s Dining Playbook and Camp Harbor View’s Advisory Council, it was an evening full of surprises. Over 700 attendees heard from organization leaders, champions, and a few special guests sharing stories of joy, hope, and the community that made it all possible. The celebration was capped off with four impressive Leaders in Training sharing their 2020 experiences and why they’re hopeful for the future.

Watch the evening’s program from start to finish below to hear more young leaders share their perspectives.  We promise it will leave you energized and inspired.

Camp Harbor View is made possible by the generous support of donors. We hope you’re inspired to continue to invest in the future of Boston with us. Please consider donating to support our mission and share the magic of Camp Harbor View with family, friends, and fellow Bostonians by following us on social media. Thank you for being a part of this community.

Celebrate #BostonBlackHistory With Us

We’re excited to continue #BostonBlackHistory this February in celebration of Black History Month, posting stories on the legacy of Black history in our wonderful and culturally rich city across our social media channels and encouraging everyone in Boston to join the conversation by sharing stories of their own.

Leaders in Training in our program helped brainstorm and develop the stories we’re telling. History matters and representation matters – and through this project we seek to highlight the great diversity and character of the city of Boston.

Here are just a few of our favorites from the stories told by teens in our program and by members of this community so far. Do you have one to add? Post it to your social channels with the hashtag #BostonBlackHistory or send it our way via email at info@campharborview.org or Instagram @campharborview. Please join us in raising awareness of these important stories.

#BostonBlackHistory posts

#BostonBlackHistory posts

Camp Harbor View seeks to impact racial & economic inequality in Boston

At Camp Harbor View, we often ask ourselves if we’re doing enough. Are we doing enough for our campers, Leaders in Training and staff? Are we doing enough for the families of the youth we serve?  About six months ago, we decided that the answer to the last of those important questions was “NO.”

When the Boston Globe published its recent series on racial income disparity in Boston, one of the stunning statistics shared was that the average net worth of families of color in the city is $8.00.  That’s not a typo – $8.00.  Camp Harbor View has always been committed to promoting equity and opportunity in Boston, but this series stirred our desire to do more. Encouraged and supported by the Board of Directors, we decided to begin with Camp Harbor View families; to learn from them about the obstacles and hurdles they face with respect to economic mobility and to work with them to design pilot solutions to some of the most intractable problems they encounter.

We have taken the first step by engaging the services of the consulting team of Turahn Dorsey and Reverend Mariama White-Hammond to lead us through a process of information-gathering with families and LITs from our program, and then to work with family representatives and an advisory board composed of corporate leaders to create short and long-term solutions of varying size and scope.

Racial and economic inequality has long been the norm in Boston.  We know that we cannot fix a problem of this magnitude, but we believe that we might be able to have an impact on at least a small group of families.  Perhaps that grows into something more substantial and perhaps we will create a model that can be replicated.  We realize this is a tall order, but we feel a deep responsibility to the families who have placed their trust in us, so we’re off and running.  We’ll keep you posted.

‘An island just for us’: opening day for summer camp on Long Island

BOSTON (The Boston Globe) – Sporting pink reflective sunglasses that matched her bright lipstick, Lisa Fortenberry clapped and yelled “Day one, baby!”

In front of her, campers exited their buses in single file Monday. Some tried to keep a cool countenance — one even kept his arms crossed as he strode along — but the staff’s energetic welcome was tough to resist. When the teenager thought no one was looking, he let a smile cross his face.

The campers were headed for a boat that would take them to Camp Harbor View, where a high-ropes course cuts the skyline, orange flags line a scenic boardwalk onto the island, and waves crash against the rocky waterline next to the basketball and tennis courts.

Join Us in Celebrating #BostonBlackHistory

Today is the first day of Black History Month and we’re excited to share with you an initiative we’ll be engaging in all month long. In our teen programming and on our social media channels, we’ll be celebrating the rich (and complicated) history of being black in Boston. We’re calling the project #BostonBlackHistory and we would like you to be a part of it.

Getting involved is really quite simple — we’ll be posting images and stories from leaders, activists, and change agents in our city’s black history throughout the month of February to Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, and our website. However, there’s absolutely zero chance that we can do justice to about four centuries of black history by ourselves; that’s where you come in.

We’re hoping you’ll join us in using the hashtag #BostonBlackHistory and posting stories and memories to your own social media profiles or to the profile of your school, company, or organization. What stories have you lived — whether they’re about you, or your family, your friends, your community? What stories or heroes from this city’s history have inspired you? Maybe you remember when Martin Luther King, Jr., led thousands in a march from Roxbury to the Boston Common to protest school segregation. Maybe you went to Burke High School with Donna Summer. Maybe your own mom or dad or grandmother is a part of #BostonBlackHistory. We want to hear your stories.

Subscribe to our emails to make sure you don’t miss anything — we’ll be sending a few updates on the project throughout the month.

We’re looking forward to digging into our city’s rich history with you.