Concord Bonner Scholars Volunteer at Camp for Homeless Children
Athens, W.Va. – Helping the community is what the Bonner Scholars program is all about. In September, a group of Bonner Scholars volunteered their weekend to helping Scottie’s Place, a wilderness camp for homeless children on Powell Mountain near Peterstown, W.Va.
The student volunteers dedicated their Friday evening and all day Saturday to putting in the foundation for two new lean-tos for the camp to use in their upcoming season. Bonner students dug post holes and worked together to put the posts in place. They also worked to push and roll 2,000-pound hay bails into a fenced area.
As the darkness fell on Powell Mountain Friday evening, and the work for the day was completed, the Bonner’s took time to fellowship with one another and the camp’s founders, Jo-El Wadsworth and Paul Winter, and their family. Following a home-cooked meal by Jo-El, the Bonners assembled for a bonfire. After toasting marshmallows and making s’mores, the students reflected on their roles as volunteers and what they were thankful for in a “go-around,” a typical activity for campers at Scottie’s Place.
Some Bonners spent the night in the camp’s pavilion, and helped on Saturday.
“I love sleeping here. I love the outdoors. I love it! I really enjoy the fresh air,” said Laura Wright, a Bonner scholar from Princeton, W.Va.
“We’ve returned to Scottie’s Place many times since our initial visit two years ago. There’s always plenty of work to do to further the growth of the camp and to maintain the natural beauty of their land on Powell Mountain. Jo-El and Paul are gracious hosts and have invited our students to be a part of their vision for the camp and their mission to serve our country’s homeless children. I think our Bonner Scholars now have a connection with Scottie’s Place that will last for a long, long time,” said Kathy Ball, Bonner Scholars program coordinator at Concord.
Scottie’s Place is a wilderness camp designed specifically for homeless children. The camp hopes to empower children with survival skills and wilderness adventure, and to offer a refuge from life in a shelter.
“In 1992, we met Scottie. Scottie was eight years old and living with his parents and baby brother in a van in a national forest. Scottie and his family were homeless. Scottie's father worked as a day laborer in nearby towns. Scottie owned one book which he clung to - a children's Bible that he could not read.
We did not know homeless children existed in America. We were horrified. We found that while many organizations and public figures are working to end homelessness, few efforts address the special needs of homeless children. The National Coalition for the Homeless states that, "Homelessness today is not just a housing issue, it is an education issue, a children's issue and a family issue. Attempts to break the cycle that do not address these facts are destined to fail." In 1999, we opened Scottie's Place, the first year-round special needs camp in the United States for homeless children,” the founders shared.
“Bonner students are awesome. They’re building this camp for us,” said Paul Winter, co-founder of Scottie’s Place.
The Bonner Scholar Program seeks to transform the lives of college students, their local communities, and the nation through providing access to education and opportunities to serve.
To achieve this mission, the Bonner Foundation, headquartered in Princeton, N.J., provides four-year community service scholarships to approximately 1500 students (who are referred to as Bonner Scholars) annually. The scholarship serves those individuals who have high financial need and a commitment to service. It is designed to heighten the overall education a Scholar receives by asking students to engage in ongoing service work and helping them develop the tools and the knowledge necessary to make that work meaningful and lasting.
Concord University is the only public institution in the nation to offer the Bonner Scholars program. For information on applying to the Bonner Scholars program at Concord University, contact Kathy Ball, program coordinator, at 1-304-384-6009 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTO: Bonner Scholars Laura Wright from Princeton and Andria Brown from Iaeger are helping build a “lean-to” that will be used at Scottie’s Place.
Jesse Call, a student in Concord University’s political science department wrote this press release. His hometown is Pocahontas, Va. Jesse is also a Bonner Scholar.