Want to know more about Starfish?
It's the goal of Starfish Alliance to help transform communities around the country and around the world by interrupting the cycles of neglect, abuse and abandonment for children in the foster care system. Where neglect and abuse took place in a child's life because of a breakdown of relationship, we rebuild healthy, loving relationships through week-long summer camps.
Children: Children of all faiths, or no faith are welcome at Starfish KIDS Camps. We value helping all children who have been affected by abuse and neglect to change the trajectory of their lives.
Volunteers: Volunteers are not required to be church members (of the sponsoring church), but for reasons of accountability, the lead volunteer directors must be members of the sponsoring church and accountable to the sponsoring pastoral team and Starfish Alliance.
Host Church: Starfish Alliance actively works with a multi-denominational camp sponsoring church network that varies widely in traditions or denominations, but is unified in affirming the standard Christian faith, as outlined in the Starfish Alliance faith statement.
Faith Statement: We affirm faith in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the trustworthiness and authority of the Bible and the value and dignity of all people as well as our human alienation from God by sin and our need for salvation and grace through Jesus Christ.
Three to five people from an established and respected church would attend an intense week-long Starfish KIDS Camp Directors Training Camp during a summer.
Once training is completed, that church group will have one year to fundraise, recruit, and launch their own local Starfish KIDS Camp, serving foster children ages 6-12 from their community.
The host church is responsible for and operates their own Starfish KIDS Camp, under the accountability of Starfish Alliance.
Starfish Kids Camps are a free, one-week summer camp experience specifically designed for the needs of looked after children ages 6-12.
When a child goes to Starfish KIDS Camp, they receive the attention and encouragement of an adult camp counsellor, known as "BIGs".
In addition, each camper is exposed to a variety of exciting activities designed for their encouragement and self-esteem.
Some activities include woodworking, swimming, costumes, tea parties, sports, fishing, songs and skits, games, musical instruments, hiking, and horseback riding.
For most children, it's the best week of the year - a special time when they can focus on having fun and enjoy being a kid.
Evenings at camp are filled with special events such as a carnival, royal ball, and the highlight of the week, the surprise birthday party where there is cake and gifts for every child! Campers receive special gifts through the week as well.
One of which is their camp memory book, filled with photos taken throughout the week - a treasure to remind them about the unconditional love and positive memories they experienced.
They also receive a camp duffle bag for their clothes, a water bottle, a cuddly toy, a children's Bible, and an Mp3 player with all the camp songs and stories pre-loaded.
In addition to all the wonderful gifts and memories, the most valuable thing they take home with them is hope - a hope that no matter what they have been through, or what their life situation may be, there are people that love them, and there is a God that made them and has a wonderful plan for their lives.
Two children - and only two - are assigned to each camp counsellor/BIG camper.
Each BIG camper and two children are assigned a partner BIG camper and children-forming a family POD.
Throughout the week, each family POD will stay together for all activities. In addition, there is generally a camp COUSIN(s) assigned to each POD, making the staff to children ratio even higher.
This ensures the campers safety, while also provided the much needed one-on-one attention.
Camp Directors, staff, and BIG campers go through intensive training, including a study of the dynamics of child abuse and neglect, using recognized professionals in the field as faculty as well as safeguarding training.
There is also an intensive screening process for volunteers, including interviews, references, and background checks.
There are strict policies and procedures for behaviour of campers, volunteers, and staff which ensure that there is never an opportunity for an unsafe or questionable situation.
Additionally, several strict and important measures are taken to ensure the camps are safe for the children such as the "two deep" rule, which ensures that no adult is ever alone with a child.
The camp location itself is especially selected to provide a safe, fun place for the camp experience. Although many of the volunteers are in professions having to do with children and youth, a nurse and social work professional/safeguarding lead are always onsite to attend to the campers' needs.
There are 68,680 children in care living in foster homes across the United Kingdom.
Around 30,000 new children are put into care each year.
The main reasons children are taken into care are abuse and neglect.
Nearly half of all men in custody in England come from care.
Approximately 20% of homeless people in Wales come from care.
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