The Bear Hug Foundation provides summer camp experiences for special needs and at-risk children and is seeking funding to send kids to camp this summer.
By Rachel Schostak
Photography by Derrick Martinez
A group of camp enthusiasts hosted an intimate Bear Hug Foundation barbecue on May 9 at Ilana and Jason Fisher’s West Bloomfield home. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness about the Bear Hug Foundation and share its fundraising goal.
The Bear Hug Foundation provides a supportive summer camp experience to at-risk and underserved children by partnering with community organizations and delivering a unique outdoor opportunity. The programming and camp activities help foster personal growth and strengthen self-image, while building and developing positive friendships, skills, and meaningful relationships.
Think about waking up to a beautiful lake, being able to get up on water skis for the first time, making friendship bracelets at arts and crafts, roasting your first s’mores — many of us have been so fortunate to experience all of this — and we should empower kids in need of some fresh air and the outdoors to have these experiences too!
Founded in 2000, Bear Hug works with a number of schools and youth-serving organizations to design camping programs that supplement activities that cannot be learned in the classroom. Since its inception, Bear Hug has given over 6,500 children the opportunity to attend a residential, summer camp program. The Bear Hug Foundation brings children of all ages, races, economic incomes and levels of ability together to experience life in a natural environment.
Currently, the Bear Hug camping programs reach over 300 children each summer from Metro Detroit. It is because of the Bear Hug programs that many underserved children attend residential camp for the first time. The camping environment helps young children and adolescents build leadership, self-esteem, as well as problem-solving, decision-making and communication skills.
These children come in groups from a number of area schools and nonprofit organizations. Bear Hug partners with the organizations to create specialized residential camping programs for the children that address their needs and challenges in order to provide a unique and exciting outdoor experience.
Bear Hug partners with other camp venues around the state to provide programming. The foundation has used the Tamarack facility in Ortonville and Camp O’ the Hills in Brooklyn, Michigan, and will work with any camp.
Youth groups currently supported include: Friendship Circle, University Prep, MacDowell Academy, Jalen Rose Academy, JARC, Judson Center, Orchards Children’s Services, Alternatives for Girls and Youth on the Edge of Greatness.
Leave a Positive Print on a Kid’s Life this Summer!
This organization is small, but mighty, and that is why we have chosen to help raise awareness and funds to help more kids experience some version of camp. Now, more than ever, Bear Hug Foundation is in need of funds to send kids to camp this summer. You can donate by visiting gofundme.com/hibernation-celebration.
Rachel Schostak is a board member of the Bear Hug Foundation. See more photos in the gallery above.