Kaupas Camp seeks donations to expand program, chip away cost

Published: 4/21/2017 10:00 AM
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By Sarah DeSantis

THE NEWS-ITEM sarah_d@newsitem.com

MOUNT CARMEL — A donation made to the Mount Carmel Area Education Foundation by the Bucknell University Catholic Campus Ministry will help chip away at the cost of adding 20 to 30 additional slots to this summer’s Kaupas Camp.

But organizers of the camp say donations are still needed to fund the expansion of the program for its second year.

The camp brings together Bucknell University, the Mother Maria Kaupas Center, the Mount Carmel Area School District and the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit’s STEAMs afterschool program together to create a series of athletic clinics and educational activities. Thirty kids attended the camp at no cost last year for its inaugural session.

Pete Cheddar, junior high principal, said the connection to Bucknell University has provided opportunities that might otherwise be unavailable to many of the economically-disadvantaged students at the district. Recently, Bucknell offered Mount Carmel students a chance to go to a Bison basketball game at Sojka Pavilion.

“So many of our kids said, ‘We’ve never been to a college campus,’” said Cheddar. “I hope it encourages them to say, ‘How can I go to college?’”

Four days of field trips to Bucknell’s campus are planned as part of the camp expansion. Cheddar said the university will again offer athletic clinics with college athletes and coaches, and campers will have the opportunity to practice on Bucknell’s football field or tennis courts.

Activities for non-athletes will continue, and funding will be used to hire additional staff. The field trips will also include tours of the campus and university library, Cheddar said.

Kaupas Center Executive Director Jake Betz said some of the money needed to expand the camp has been raised, but there is “a long way to go.”

The $600 donation from the Catholic Campus Ministry helped chip away at this goal. Students said they raised the money by holding a pancake breakfast at the Lewisburg Applebees last spring. The students sold the tickets across campus, then acted as wait staff during the breakfast.

University student Corrine Smith said the ministry decided they would donate the money to the Kaupas Camp at the recommendation of Betz. She said they sought his advice because the students wanted to know how to make the biggest impact on the lives of the residents of Mount Carmel.

“We really wanted to use it for whatever they needed,” she said. “The kids are the future of the community.”

Her fellow student Austin Smith said after he attended his first ministry trip to Mount Carmel he returned to campus alongside his fellow volunteers with “this fire, this passion” for helping the borough.

“We generated such a buzz on campus. Everyone wants to come,” he said.

The spring ministry trip, which involved several hours of volunteer work at the Mount Carmel Area Food Bank, booked up in five hours. Several trips are already planned for the fall semester. Smith said students are also planning ways to contribute to the borough through campus-based projects, like fundraisers.

The students made their $600 donation to the camp through the Mount Carmel Area Education Foundation, the district’s nonprofit arm. Anyone seeking to contribute to the camp’s success can donate at www.mca.k12.pa.us/wp/mca-education-foundation/donate. Donors should mark “Kaupas Camp” in the “use my gift for” box. Donations can also be made by contacting the district directly.

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