Children’s Summer in the Shelter

This summer, over 60 children have spent time at the shelter. Candace, our Childcare Advocate, has kept them busy with fun and educational activities that are designed to help their personal, social, and academic growth while they are at the shelter. During the summer, each day of the week has a different them – Reading and Education, Imaginary Day, Culinary Experiences, Theater and Play, and Field Day. The activities range from creating fun foods to arts and crafts to water gun fights on the playground. “I love spending time with them”, Candace shared. “Knowing that they have a place to come where they can laugh and have fun and get away from all they are going through is what motivates me day after day”.

For the school-aged kids, Candace held groups three days a week that gave them time to continue their academic work in the summer, making sure they are prepared when school starts. Even though the summer is a fun time, she knows that a lot of the children need the extra academic help, and she works to make it a fun and inviting experience. She challenged the kids to read 1,000 books over the summer, and they are almost to their goal!

Each child that comes through the Gentle Jungle leaves an impression on Candace, but of course there are always some that stick out. “One story that sticks out in my mind from this summer is a family of 4 that was here”, Candace said. “The youngest boy was about 3 years old, but the only word he said when he got here was ‘bananas’. His mom was worried about him and had wanted to get him into preschool, but his dad was so controlling that he did not allow it. By the time he left, after just a few weeks, he was saying more words. When his mom came to pick him up one day and heard him speaking, she cried.”

The summer wrapped up with the annual Back to School Bash, hosted by the Peacekeepers. The kids (and moms!) got to enjoy a day of water slides, a cook-out, lawn games, and an epic water balloon fight. Thanks to the generosity of our community, WCF was able to provide backpacks and school supplies for over 30 kids as they started the school year.

Life in the shelter can be hard, especially for a child. Working as a Child Advocate has its unique set of challenges, but Candace’s hope is that the Children’s Services will provide a safe, comforting, and enriching environment and assist the kids in their healing process during their time with us.

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