Kids Dream Camp party held in North Philadelphia

NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It was a party for the young graduates of the ESF Dream Camp celebrating at Temple University.

Nearly 200 campers played games and danced the morning away for the last pow wow after 5 weeks of summer camp.

Yes, I was also pulled in to help send the kids off.

But although this is all, of course, meant to be fun, it's an invaluable experience for these kids whose parents often can't afford the costs of summer camp.

"Our program is pretty unique in that we offer a variety of activities like I said it's also free of charge," Program Director Natalie Padula said.

Nine-year-old Raven Diggins has been coming every summer for four years.

"I'm here because I can have fun learn more things throughout summer," she said.

"Once they're with us they get pretty much guaranteed enrollment so we get to see them grow up," Padula said.

One impressive example of the success of this camp is Jasmine Mays. A sophomore at Villanova University majoring in biology and premed and recipient of the prestigious gates millennium scholarship.

"I wrote one of my gates essays about being a dream camp one summer," Jasmine said.

Today dream camp recognized her with the Ichiban award for her help this summer.

"We are so proud of you Ms. Jasmine Mays!"

"I know kids here from dream camp. They eat here, they might not eat at home but you come to dream camp to escape what might be going on home," Mays said.

Having grown up in a home where her mom struggled financially, she says she's proof of the life changing difference a free program like this can make in a child's life.

"I feel like everybody deserves a chance and not just one chance, a second chance and a third chance. You never know how much that can impact somebody because you don't know what's going on in somebody's home," Mays added.

And this camp is all about giving these kids a chance. And it's solely based on donations. So if you would like to lend your support and get some kids off the waiting list for next year, email Managing Director Leah Evans at or visit ESF Dream Camp.

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