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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Prison Summer Camp Lets Kids Reconnect With Dads

Geray Williams, an inmate at the North Branch Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Md., says goodbye to his children, Sanchez, 12, and Summer Williams, 13, during the closing minutes of a weeklong summer day camp at the maximum security prison, July 30, 2010. (Timothy Jacobsen/AP)

Geray Williams, an inmate at the North Branch Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Md., says goodbye to his children, Sanchez, 12, and Summer Williams, 13, during the closing minutes of a weeklong summer day camp at the maximum security prison, July 30, 2010. (Timothy Jacobsen/AP)

According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, one in 28 kids in the U.S. has a parent in prison. For African American kids, the number jumps to one in nine.

For some of them, the end of summer is particularly bittersweet, because it also signals the end of a unique summer camp in North Carolina and Maryland prisons.

The camps were started by the Washington, D.C. non profit Hope House. Called “Father to Child Summer Camp Behind Bars,” they bring children to prisons to spend several hours a day with their fathers for one week.

Hope House staff counselors are on hand to guide kids through camp-like projects and games, and fathers must meet certain criteria in order to participate. According to the Hope House website, “they must be involved in a parenting program in the prison and they must have clear conduct for one year in the prison.”

Carol Fennelly, executive director of Hope House, says the camp benefits both the kids and their dads.

“I think a lot of times kids come to camp and end up saving their fathers’ lives,” Fennelly told Here & Now. “A lot of times guys don’t have anything left and their kids come and give them a reason to wake up in the morning.”

Guest

  • Kobe, a camper in the “Father to Child Summer Camp Behind Bars”┬áprogram.
  • Carol Fennelly, executive director of Hope House.

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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