The Salvation Army’s Eagle Creek Corps Community Center is always hopping during the school year. Most evenings the gymnasium, classrooms, and sanctuary are filled with children of all ages engaged in a wide variety of activities. From ballet and taekwondo to basketball to indoor soccer, there is something for everyone. An afterschool program provides homework help and access to a computer lab, while the weekly Thrive program offers an entire evening of fun with archery, music lessons, character building ministries, and a tasty dinner.

Ballet class for young girls and boys

These programs help parents keep their children healthy and engaged, all in a safe and uplifting environment. When summer rolls around, though, these parents often face months of expensive child care. That’s why the Eagle Creek Corps offers an 8-week day camp for just $70 per week – less than half the cost of most camps in Indianapolis.

Community Center director Ryan Mathews has designed a program that offers more than just child care.“Kids aren’t just sitting around watching TV –  they’re getting out,” he explains. “They’re going swimming, going to the library, playing games in our gym, doing all kinds of things that are keeping them active and having a fun time around other kids.” From hiking in Eagle Creek Park to exploring the Indianapolis Zoo and the Learning Curve at the Central Library, activities are designed to keep minds and bodies in motion all summer long.

Campers visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Captain Jonathan Cooper, administrator at the Eagle Creek Corps, has seen the positive impact that camp has on families facing tight budgets. “What most of our parents really love about what we offer is that we do it in a way that provides experiences for kids,” he shares. “If I look back on my childhood, most of my greatest memories happened during summer. We want all kids – no matter what their family status or income level – to have some really great, memorable experiences and do things that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do.”

Captain Cooper points out one group of siblings and explains how the oldest boy first came to try out the afterschool program. Before long, his younger sisters insisted on coming too so they could get help with homework and enjoy time in the gym after finishing their homework. “They come all the time now,” Captain Cooper goes on to explain. “They have a great time and they’ve been in just about every program that we offer.”

Harvesting sweet corn in the community garden

Summer is also a great time for the children to learn about urban farming, a movement that is helping families in cities eat more fresh vegetables and fruits while saving on the grocery bill. The kids help to plant and tend the community garden on The Salvation Army’s property. They take great pride in seeing the plants grow and harvesting produce for the food pantry at the corps community center. The community garden teaches children about hard work, patience, and the rewards of a job well done.

The new Eagle Creek Summer Adventures Scholarship Program has been developed to help more families send their children to day camp this summer. While it only costs $420 to send one child to camp for an entire summer, even this can be too much for a struggling family. This scholarship program gives donors an opportunity to focus their giving, while ensuring that The Salvation Army can continue to offer amazing experiences for families in need in Indianapolis.

If you would like any information about the Eagle Creek Summer Adventures Scholarship Program, contact Captains Jonathan and Chrissy Cooper at (317) 299-4454. With the help of donors like you, we’re hoping that even more children will be able to spend this summer making memories, not watching reruns.