Widening the Welcome: Silver Lake and Legacy Foundation

May 26, 2016
By Jennifer Kronholm Clark

Silver Lake has always been committed to welcoming every young person who wants to come to camp, regardless of ability to pay. But sometimes we struggle to get that message out. It takes the intervention of someone else — pastor, teacher, mentor, family friend — to get these young people to camp.

Last summer, a new partnership between Silver Lake and a Hartford nonprofit, the Legacy Foundation, emerged after a common donor suggested we could support each other.

Sara Batchelder of Simsbury made a gift to support Hartford children coming to Silver Lake. But the gift was not used over a couple of years because there were not very many children from Hartford coming to Silver Lake.

“It seems it was hard to get kids from the inner city to come to camp,” Sara said. Even with the cost of camp paid for, a lot families didn’t think Silver Lake was in reach for them. “Then I talked with Greg Jones of the Legacy Foundation, and he asked me to sponsor sending kids to debate camp. So I told him about this Silver Lake money. And he said, ‘I can have ten kids there in three weeks.’ And he did!”

Greg Jones is the founder of the Legacy Foundation of Hartford, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing enrichment experiences to the underserved youth of the North End.
Existing friendships grew stronger and
new friendships formed over a week of camp.
“We believe that for all kids, education is a primary determinant in one’s life trajectory,” Greg said. “All kids should experience higher education. All kids should go to college. Studies have shown that even when they pursue college and don’t graduate, they are much better off than those who didn’t even attempt it.”
The Legacy Foundation offers daily after-school enrichment for its participants. Homework help, arts programs, and theater programs are some of the activities. Greg believes that the more his children are exposed to, the better they will do in life. It’s hard to imagine a different life when you’ve never been outside your own neighborhood.

And that’s why Greg is committed to sending his young people to summer camp. Speaking to a group of parents last summer, Greg explained that the connections they would make and the experiences they would have at camp would dramatically broaden their horizons.
“The challenge is that they don’t see a lot; they’re limited,” Greg said. “In some households, kids hear millions of words before they can talk. In other families they hear a fraction. Exposure allows them to enhance. We’re trying to do the same thing.”

After Sara Batchelder put Greg Jones in touch with Silver Lake, eight young people from the Legacy Foundation came to camp in 2015. They attended Food for Thought, a conference centering on the garden and learning about where food comes from and how to prepare it, and No Strings Attached, a puppetry conference.

Greg said the young people are looking forward to coming back in 2016.

“At camp, you get exposed to things you wouldn’t get exposed to in your everyday life. You experience something entirely different,” Greg said.

To make a donation to Silver Lake scholarships, mail a check or go online to www.silverlakect.org.

Silver Lake Conference Center

Silver Lake Conference Center is the home of the Outdoor Ministries of the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ.
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223 Low Road | Sharon, CT 06069 | 860.364.5526 | Fax: 860.364.1000 | slcc@ctucc.org