Our guest blogger this week is Aaron Laughlin who is starting us off on a series about exploring summer camps. Aaron has worked in healthcare finance for over 30 years with 10 of those being a CFO. He is an Elder in the Community of Christ and a member of the Shawnee Drive congregation. Aaron serves on the Share, Inc., DBS, Camp MITIOG board. He has also been the chairman of the CAMP MITIOG council since 2015 which acts like the Financing/Fundraising committee for Camp MITIOG. Aaron is the President of the Camp Chihowa board and a member of the Camp Moja board. As you can see he is highly invested in making camps successful places where love and kindness shine. Today he gets to share about his experience with Camp MITIOG (Made in the Image of God) where he has helped for over twenty years. He started as a counselor and has became a leader in its ongoing success.
For 51 years CAMP MITIOG (Made in the image of God) has provided camping experiences for children living with Spina Bifida. It's a small camp held at the Doniphan Conference & Retreat Center located in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. Each year over a hundred volunteers come excited and ready to give ministry at a camp specially designed for children living with special needs aged 7-16. Most of the campers rely on wheel chairs for mobility and are not able to navigate a regular camp ground that most camping programs provide. Here they get the opportunity to live in the great outdoors and experience what camping is all about.
Camp MITIOG (Made in the image of God) has two main purposes.
1. Providing a camping experience for children with special needs
2. Giving a life changing experience for young adults who provide one on one care to each camper. This requires giving emotional support and taking care of the campers physical needs.
Most of the campers need 24 hour care throughout their lives. An added benefit of Camp MITIOG is that it provides a week of relief to the caregivers of the campers. The camp provides full medical support for the campers physical needs to ensure they are not at risk. Each camper is assigned a counselor that does everything the camper needs for the week. I often hear counselors say the opportunity to give back to someone has created a joy in their life that has changed their life direction. Most come back year after year to be a part of this amazing experience. In fact, I met my children’s mother at Camp MITIOG when we were both counselors in the late 1970’s.
Camp MITIOG has a 97% camper return rate! If they are not returning than its most likely that they have graduated. Most of the campers go for all 10 years that they can. Parents gratefully share with us the amazing things their children say about camp. Comments like, "Camp is better than Christmas" or campers asking, "When can I go back" after only being home for one week are common statements that bring joy to my heart.
Become a Counselor!
We have had counselors come from all over the world. One year we had a camper attend from Alaska. The camper has now become a champion skier. This story sends chills through my soul because we were a part in helping this once vulnerable child into becoming a successful citizen of this world. It proves to me that all people have worth. The Camp MITIOG experience reflects that everyone has worth and it shines the light on the amazing person God created us to be.
Camp MITIOG provides the camping experience for up to 57 campers each year. It takes about 5,000 volunteer hours to plan, fundraise, and operate the camp. If you know of a young adult 16 years old or older, that would like to be a counselor, please have them go to CampMITIOG.org and sign up to be a counselor. I guarantee they will not regret the experience.
One amazing thing is Camp MITIOG is provided free of charge to the campers and is funded 100% by donations. Most of the campers would not be able to come to camp each year without the generosity of donors. One wonderful organization helping us provide this program is the Camps for Kids organization. They have provided over $20,000 each year in a matching funds grant. The way it works is for every dollar donated to Camp MITIOG through Camps for Kids, they will match each donation up to $1,500. Because of the generosity of donors we have been able to match 100% of this grant for the last 10 years. Thank you to all those who have supported Camp MITIOG!
Depending upon the path of the current pandemic situation in the world, camp is currently scheduled to proceed July 19-24, 2020. This year we are open to having interested individuals tour the camp but must schedule an appointment. You can contact me at 816-454-2607 with any questions or interest you have in helping out with the camp or fundraising. I guarantee it will be rewarding! I am blessed every year in telling the story of Camp MITIOG and the response of generosity I see from people.
The matching Camps for Kids grant in 2020 is open now and runs through July 31, 2020. If interested in helping us match the $22,500 please go to Camps for Kids and donate.
“NOW” is the time to maximize the benefits of your donation.
1.) Please send all donations made payable to: Camps for Kids
2.) Mail the contributions to: Camp MITIOG
C/O Camps for Kids
Mission, KS 66202
3.) Write in the Memo section of the check or money order, For Camp MITIOG.
4.) All contributions this year will receive a receipt from Camps for Kids designating which camp the donation was credited to.
Thank you for your grateful consideration and God bless each one of you!
If you are aware of any organizations or individuals who would like to sponsor Camp MITIOG in fundraising efforts, please let me know and I will send out our 501c3 letters and our professionally prepared brochures. I can be reached at 816-454-2607 or at Aaron@CampMITIOG.org for any other questions.
I really appreciate Aaron writing about Camp MITIOG so we can be aware of the amazing ministry that happens there.
This week think about your own camp experience and share it with someone else. And if you feel able please donate to this awesome camp!
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.