Paving the Path: Camp-to-Career’s Seniors Learn Powerful History

April 29, 2023 by Analise Narine

Each summer, the camp portion of HPUMC’s Camp-to-Career program offers kids ages 9-17 a chance to be outdoors and dive into God’s word in a fun, safe space.

However, camp is just the beginning. During spring break of their senior year, those who have “aged out” of camp (18 years and older) embark on a Civil Rights Pilgrimage through Little Rock, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee, from March 13 to 16.

The first stop for the students this spring was Little Rock Central High School. There, they learned about the historic desegregation of the school in 1957, when nine African American students (the “Little Rock Nine”) attended the school, paving the way for others but facing physical and verbal attacks as they did.

“If they weren’t so passionate about their education and trying to move forward in life, we wouldn’t be where we are now,” Camp-to-Career participant Christian Piedra said. Participants continued learning at the Little Rock Nine Monument at the Arkansas State Capital and the William J. Clinton Library & Museum.

Then, they headed to Memphis, where they visited the National Civil Rights Museum and Stax Museum of American Soul Music and drove by Slave Haven Underground Railroad. Each day, and each location, offered opportunities to learn and reflect.

“We came to see study and observe the impact of the civil rights movement,” Camp-to-Career participant Rodney Goines said. It gave me an understanding of what the African Americans of the era had to go through.”

Many of the students on the trip have been in Camp-to-Career for many years, some since the camp portion of the program as kids, while others joined the important trip as fully-fledged high school seniors. Through this powerful trip, all students could dive into difficult history and their heritage to understand the importance of their journeys.

“No matter what age you are, I feel like you can make a difference.”
Thomas Goodman, Camp-to-Career participant