PULLMAN, Washington – This summer, a new and innovative program to build life and work skills for foster care youth from The Casey Family Program will begin at a lakeside residential camp owned and operated by the College of Education at Washington State University. The program continues throughout the school year via the internet, according to Seattle attorney Dick Ford, who is both the president of The Casey Family Program Board of Trustees and a committee chair of the WSU Foundation.
To support this collaboration, Casey has signed a $323,000 partnership agreement with WSU to provide both a “real” camp followed by a 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 1500 children in 13 states.
Youngsters from age 14 to 17 who are entering their sophomore or junior year in high school will be selected from the 23 Casey offices around the country to become Casey’s first technology campers. They will be brought 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 e-mail, the internet, web site design, digital art and music, and other technologies can enhance their lives at home, school and throughout the community. Campers will also enjoy typical camp activities, including sailing, swimming, games and mountain biking. Their training will stress teamwork, problem solving and decision making skills.
For the year following their camp experience, the youth will have the use of a personal computer and an online mentor relationship with a WSU graduate student. Together, they will explore how their technology skills can best be utilized to explore personal interests, communicate effectively with others, enhance their school performance, and plans 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.”
WSU’s Camp Roger Larson is a 40-acre, 150-bed facility near Worley, Idaho. A variety of residential programs for children and adults in addition to the Casey project are scheduled at the camp. GTE has donated $50,000 and provided a high-tech telephone connection to make this technology camp possible.
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.
MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Media representatives are encouraged to visit Camp Larson to observe the technology camp in action and interview adult participants during the boys’ program from Monday, July 27, through Thursday, July 30, and during the girls’ program from Monday, August 10, through Thursday, August 13. For the safety and privacy of the youth, the Casey Family Program requires that none of the foster care youth can be interviewed or recognizably pictured in photographs. All WSU student mentors and all staff are available for interviews and photographs. Also, for the security reasons, media representatives must telephone ahead to the camp for directions and to schedule a visit. Call program coordinators Geoff Wood or Marc Fleisher at Camp Larson, 208/689-2267.