A leap of faith

Hot town, summer in the city,

Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty,

Been down, isn’t it a pity,

Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city.

(“Summer in the City,” The Lovin’ Spoonful, 1966)

Does that take you back? If so, you’re revealing something about yourself and your 1960s listening habits. I would love to know if anyone out there still has this song on vinyl.

I put “Summer in the City” in my column not to bring us back to younger days, though, but because I was talking to Ruth Roy from our development department the other day, and she told me that when she thinks about Sunset Point Camp, she thinks about this song. The lyrics seem apt.

Since 1918, Sunset Point Camp has provided children of the archdiocese the opportunity to have a fun-filled summer camp experience. The camp is located on Sunset Point in Hull and run by Catholic Charities. Summer after summer, 400 children ages 6-15 enjoy swimming, games, crafts, food, fun and friendship in a safe and comfortable environment.

We have served more than 40,000 kids at Sunset Point over the years. While they can come from all over the archdiocese, a disproportionate number of them come from the most challenging neighborhoods in Boston. They grow up within a few miles of the ocean, but they will see it for the first time when they come to Sunset Point Camp. They will escape the hot, slow summer of the city for a week. They’ll swing on the swing set. They’ll play games at the picnic tables. They’ll build sand castles on the beach, and taste saltwater.

They’ll be what kids should be: happy and carefree.

Because we are Catholic Charities, they also will build essential life skills. Sunset Point Camp teaches leadership and cooperation. It teaches independence and self-esteem. It emphasizes the importance of good sportsmanship and of taking care of your health. While giving kids a chance to be kids, it also calls them to be the kind of kids we know they can be, and they respond eagerly to being believed in that way.

Last year, for the first time in its history, Sunset Point Camp was closed. You may have read my column about it last June. The bequest that had been supporting the camp ran dry just at the time that the economy -- and thus the fundraising environment -- grew worse. It was a very difficult decision.

This year, though, we are re-opening the camp in a leap of faith. A wonderful group of South Shore families and parishes have organized Friends of Sunset Point Camp to help us fund it, and a key foundation has its eye on support as well. The sound of laughter and the smell of sunscreen will grace this little corner of Hull once again.

We don’t have all the money we need yet, though, and we open our doors in a little over a month. It costs us $375 per camper to run the camp. Families who can afford it pay $10, and we have to raise the rest. This is a priceless investment. Just $50 buys a camper’s meals for a week; $75 covers a week of the camp’s maintenance; and $25 guarantees a kid a walk on the sand. You can also buy a scholarship for one child to go to the camp for $375.

I’ve promised you I won’t use this column to raise money often. We have promised these children a camp for the summer, though, and we must do it. We, and I, believe that the Catholic community will make sure our leap of faith has a solid landing.

Together, we will help kids know something more than just summer in the city.

To help, please go to www.ccab.org/sunsetpoint, or call Vivian Soper at 617-506-6600.

Tiziana C. Dearing is president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston.

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