Partnership Profile

Camp Oty’Okwa

Foundation Support

Since 2001, the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations have committed more than $300,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio, supporting both Camp Oty'Okwa and the Amachi program, which matches youth of incarcerated parents with an adult mentor.

Susan Beaudry, OHF director of programs, spoke with David Schirner, executive vice president of BBBS of Central Ohio, to learn more about Camp Oty’Okwa and its contributions to the community as a whole.

What does BBBS want to achieve through the camp program?
For children from low-income households, structured camping experiences help increase self esteem and confidence and provide children with the necessary life skills to avoid high-risk behaviors. National research and our own youth outcomes surveys find that children who attend camp show an improved sense of personal responsibility and independence, as well as an increased ability to engage in teamwork and demonstrate leadership qualities.
How has support from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations helped BBBS of Central Ohio achieve its goals or serve its mission?
Support from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation of Nelsonville has helped us develop a regional presence. Children – especially those who are disadvantaged – need the support of their community to grow into better citizens. We are all in this together.It has allowed us to meet more service providers working with at-risk youth in southeastern Ohio, who in turn, refer children who can most benefit from our programs. By building these relationships, we've deepened the services provided to disadvantaged youth by extending other program opportunities to them throughout the year, so they can build on what they experienced and learned at camp. The Osteopathic Heritage Foundations also made upgrading our dining facility—the heart of the camp—possible.
Why is Camp Oty'Okwa valuable to the broader community?
The foundation and guiding principle of the camp program is a statement borrowed from Native American culture: living with and loving other human beings who return that love is the most strengthening and beneficial emotional experience in the world. Camp Oty'Okwa instills values that help children learn to take responsibility for themselves and others, and to reach for more. Our communities benefit from raising whole, healthy children.
Why is Camp Oty'Okwa so important for youth in Central and Southeast Ohio?
At camp, we focus on four important principles: 1) each child is a significant person—they are important and they matter; 2) there is something at camp that every child can do successfully. We build confidence and a sense of competence many haven't experienced before; 3) children learn they have the power to make choices about their lives and the direction their lives take; and 4) we foster virtue. Kids can care for themselves, for others and be stewards of the camp. These are vital experiences for children to have in life, especially those who come from a chaotic home environment.
What are BBBS of Central Ohio's goals and hopes for the future?
Our long-term goal is to preserve Camp Oty'Okwa so that it remains a resource for the people of Central and Southeast Ohio. Our focus has been to make the camp viable as a year-round facility focused on experiential learning opportunities for children who have limited access to other resources. We've taken important steps toward realizing this goal and have secured, through conservation easements, the land on which the camp operates. While ongoing maintenance of the camp will be required, we've made significant upgrades to the facilities through a successful capital campaign in recent years. Our next major endeavor is to create an endowment so that disadvantaged kids throughout the state can attend camp forever!
What do you want people to know or understand about your organization and the population you serve?
It takes adults to raise children, in particular adults who are making positive decisions in their lives in order to support kids who are struggling to make smart choices, too. Children—especially those who are disadvantaged—need the support of their community to grow into better citizens. We are all in this together. 

    Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio

  • 1855 E Dublin-Granville Rd, 1st Floor
    Columbus, OH 43229 
  • (614) 839-2447