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A lot more than just fun in the sun

A lot more than just fun in the sun | Cape Cod Life JULY 2016

Camp Mitton’s Goal: empowering children. Brewster camp helps youngsters who have undergone crises

Tucked along the shore of Walker Pond in Brewster, Camp Mitton is a spacious campground that is part of a larger organization, Crossroads. Based in Duxbury, Crossroads’ mission is to improve how disadvantaged and under-resourced children and teenagers think about and view themselves.

“We always want to empower our young people,” says Tatiana Joyce, a development fellow for the organization and a former seasonal staff member at the camp. “We challenge our students to be stars. At camp I see our young people be the best selves they have ever been.”

By developing programing that focuses on youth empowerment via positive relationships between peers and caring adults, Crossroads seeks to inspire youth from Boston, the South Shore, and the Cape and Islands to institute positive change in their own lives.

In Brewster, Camp Mitton welcomes campers in grades one through seven who have undergone a trauma or crisis in their lives and are having difficulty coping. The camp runs three residential sessions each summer, beginning in July. The first is a two-week introductory session for campers, ages 6-13; the second and third sessions are longer. Each session focuses on building supportive and consistent relationships between campers and counselors; these connections are central to the organization’s mission of creating economically independent, socially responsible, and emotionally connected adults.

Joyce says in each session counselors have weekly one-on-one meetings with their campers, where the campers establish personal goals for themselves. These goals can range from holistic, such as being the best self the camper can be, to the tangible, cheering for a teammate three times in a game. Setting goals helps the campers “hold themselves accountable,” says Joyce, “and to measure their success.”

A special tradition during the longer sessions is the Mitton Games—or “M-Games” for short. The campers are divided into four teams for a daylong, Olympic-style competition. Throughout the day the teams compete in a variety of activities, including soccer, baseball, water sports, and a quadrathlon of running, biking, swimming, and kayaking. Points are awarded for the teams’ athletic prowess—and also for members’ demonstrated sportsmanship, teamwork, and care and support for others.

“M-Games is really a day when you see IALAC,” Joyce says, referring to the camp’s acronym for the phrase “I am loving and caring.” She adds that the M-Games are unique to Camp Mitton’s model of youth empowerment, and a camper’s earned IALAC points can represent a good measure of a camper’s progress.

Camp Mitton is located at 46 Featherbed Lane in Brewster. For more information, visit crossroadsma.org.



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