About Camp Oty’Okwa
Camp Oty'Okwa, located on 700 acres in Ohio's Hocking Hills, is owned and operated by Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Central Ohio. Founded in 1942, the camp is the last remaining Big Brothers Big Sisters year-round facility in the U.S. The camp provides a safe haven to hundreds of disadvantaged children from all over the state. In 2014, 99 percent of youth campers were from low-income families and required financial assistance to attend the program.
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. 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.
Read more from our discussion with Mr. Schirner.
Video: Camp Oty'Okwa is a place for children to learn and grow.