Largest Class of Camp-to-Career High School Seniors Graduate, Attend College
August 22, 2023 by Analise Narine
This spring, HPUMC’s Camp-to-Career program celebrated the graduation of 15 seniors, the biggest graduating class to date in the program. The Camp-to-Career class of 2023 has been on a journey that started years ago with HPUMC.
Summer Camp at Stoney Creek Ranch
Each summer, the camp portion of HPUMC’s Camp-to-Career program offers inner-city children and youth ages 9-17 in the Dallas area a chance to be outdoors and dive into God’s word in a fun, safe space. However, camp is just the beginning.
Summer Civil Rights Pilgrimage
For our rising seniors in high school, the summer before their senior year means their summer camp days will come to an end once they turn 17. The summer before their senior year is the last time they are eligible to attend camp and move into our “senior year” ministry. During that summer, in July, we embark on a journey to teach American civil rights history with a Civil Rights Pilgrimage through the Deep South: Mississippi and Alabama, with stops in Jackson, Montgomery, and Selma.
Spring Break Pilgrimage
During spring break of their senior year, we take our seniors on another Civil Rights Pilgrimage through Little Rock and Memphis, teaching all about the Little Rock Nine, and we learn about civil rights history in Memphis, Dr. King, the music during the movement, and African American mercantile on Beale Street.
After the pilgrimages, a Senior Luncheon is held in April to celebrate the program’s soon-to-be high school graduates. This year’s luncheon was an Italian feast at Maggiano’s Little Italy. Many students were joined by family members whose support is an important part of the Camp-to-Career journey. In the spirit of end-of-year high school traditions, students recalled cherished memories of camp, pilgrimages, and their senior year while looking forward to graduation.
May and June—graduation season—came around quickly. As Camp-to-Career’s seniors prepared to walk the stage, including one salutatorian, they reflected on how the program supported them throughout the years and the scholarships they received from colleges nationwide. Their families and Camp-to-Career mentors beamed with pride, greeting them with hugs after their diplomas were handed out.
High school graduation isn’t when Camp-to-Career’s support ends. To ensure students have everything they need for college regardless of their financial status, individuals and groups from Highland Park United Methodist Church contribute to help provide everything they need for college dorms or apartments, including laptops, supplies, bedding, appliances, and more. They received these gifts this year at a joyful Senior Send-Off party on the HPUMC campus.
"It’s such a blessing, and I’m very appreciative."
Christian Piedra, Camp-to-Career participant
This year’s students were supported and shown the love of God through years of summer camp, mentorship, learning experiences, and meaningful celebrations. Throughout their college years, they will be encouraged through cards and letters, exam season treat boxes, and a Christmas gathering. They also have the opportunity to apply for a summer internship with HPUMC. We are so proud of how far these 15 soon-to-be college students have come, and we can’t wait to see more success stories unfold.