PULLMAN, Wash. — An innovative program to build life and work skills for foster care youth from The Casey Family Program will begin this summer at a lakeside residential camp owned and operated by Washington State University’s College of Education. The youth program will continue throughout the school year via the internet, according to Seattle attorney Dick Ford, president of The Casey Family Program and a trustee of the WSU Foundation.
To support this collaboration, Casey has signed a $323,000 partnership agreement with WSU to provide both a “real” camp and the year-long “virtual camp” where Casey youth will learn technology skills and use them to develop their individual interests and stay in touch with their fellow campers. WSU and Casey will look for additional partners to fund the camp in future years.
The Casey Family Program provides long-term foster care for 1,500 children in 13 states.
Youngsters from age 14 to 17 who are entering their sophomore or junior year in high school have been selected from the 23 Casey offices around the country to become Casey’s first technology campers. They will come to WSU’s Camp Roger C. Larson on Idaho’s Lake Coeur d’Alene for a two-week session in either July or August. A total of 40 youth, 20 at each session, will attend the program.
While at camp, they will improve their computer literacy skills and learn how to use e-mail, the Internet, web site design, digital art and music, and other technologies that can enhance their lives at home, school and throughout the community. The youth will also enjoy typical camp activities, including sailing, swimming, games and mountain biking. Their training will stress teamwork, problem-solving and decision-making skills.
Following their camp experience, the young people will have access to personal computers and will have an online mentor relationship with WSU graduate students. Together, they will explore how their technological skills can best be utilized to explore personal interests, communicate effectively with others, enhance their school performance and plan for life after high school.
“During the school year, the relationship between the youth and their online mentors from WSU will be critical to the project’s success,” said John Emerson, Casey Director of Education. “Mentors will help each student identify how technology can best fit into their lives and plan for post-high school success.”
The primary goal of the program is developing self-sufficiency, explained Dennis Ray, program director for the WSU College of Education. “When these youth leave The Casey Family Program, they need work and life skills in order to stay employed and be responsible citizens,” Ray said. “We will be providing them with experiences as varied as computer skills and teamwork-building using a ropes course–as well as plenty of fun.”
Camp Roger Larson is a 40-acre, 150-bed facility near Worley, Idaho, owned and operated by the WSU College of Education. A variety of residential programs for children and adults in addition to this Casey project are scheduled at the camp.
The Casey Family Program is a Seattle-based operating foundation. Its core mission is to provide long-term foster care for children who are unlikely to be reunited with their birth families. It was founded by Jim Casey, who started a small delivery service in Seattle, today known as United Parcel Service (UPS), and was endowed by the Casey family,