Growing up, the hardships these children have endured as part of the migrant community make it hard to trust people. Many of these children are withdrawn and don’t want to take part in anything that falls outside their comfort zone. They are left emotionally and mentally stressed. This is especially true when it comes to encounters that may be considered scary, like leaving your family for the first time to go to camp. The S.M.A.R.T. (Serenity, Meditation, Awareness, Respect and Trust) Program funded by the Naples Children and Education Foundation, provided the emotional health support to help these children succeed. Julian and Larry were ready to take the leap and try something new this Summer.

This past June, Educational Director Bob Wickboldt, Jr. took students Julian and Larry to Maryland for the Cal Ripken Experience Baseball Camp. This was the first time they had been away overnight from their parents and the first time on a commercial flight. (You’ll remember Julian took part on in the Young Eagles experience too.) For an entire week the boys got experience the baseball vacation of a lifetime with the perfect mix of baseball and entertainment with focus on leadership, participation, and communication skills. Larry was recognized as the “Team Player of the Week”, Julian was voted “Camper of the Week” which was quite the accomplishment with 145 kids in attendance.

These seemingly small experiences left HUGE impacts on these children. None of this would be possible without the funding the S.M.A.R.T. and EAP Programs the center receives from the Naples Children and Education Foundation and the NCEF partner organizations.