Campers enjoying themselves during their day at Camp Agape Oregon with their counselors.
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Agape Youth Camp: A Peaceful Place for Children of Incarcerated Parents

This is a faith-based camp, absolutely free. The camp brings together children who are between 7-17 years of age, who have at least one incarcerated parent.

Did you know roughly sixty thousand children in Oregon (approximately 8% of the youth’s population) are prison kids? According to a survey conducted in 2016 by The National Survey of Children’s Health, this is a startling statistic.

Furthermore, according to the National Institute of Justice, kids with parents in prisons are six times more likely to go to jail themselves. They display a lot of antisocial behaviors at a young age.

The Real Experience of Having an Incarcerated Parent

Running a camp for children successfully is not an easy task. It has not been easy an easy task for Andy Papendiek, founder of Agape Youth Camp in Eugene, Oregon. According to him, running the camp for children with incarcerated parents is a task he takes personally.

It is a faith-based camp and doesn’t cost anything to those who attend. The camp brings together children who are 7-17 years with least one incarcerated parent.

Each camp lasts four days. Of course, there are little ones. It would not be fair to keep them away from their families for too long.

Where Did the Agape Youth Camp Idea Come From?

Andy started the camp seven years ago. During his outreach ministry, Andy spent time with incarcerated men at the Oregon State Penitentiary. He was inspired by the moments he spent with imprisoned men playing basketball.

After playing basketball with them, he had conversations with the imprisoned men concerning their families out of prison.

Andy has experience bringing up foster children. Together with these conversations is the main inspiration behind the formation of his youth camp. Andy and his wife Heather fostered many children in the past 12 years. Many of the kids they fostered are the forgotten children of crime. Those with incarcerated parents.

Parents in Prisons: Health Crisis Plagues Forgotten Children of Crime in America

“Agape” is a word that originates from the Greek language. It translates to God’s all-encompassing love and is the most absolute selfless act of charity and goodwill.

All About the Agape Youth Camp

The Agape Youth Camp is often held at Camp Harlow, North Eugene. Camp Harlow is owned by the First Baptist Church.

To sign up for the camp, you can do it online. Parents or guardians can help do this for the children. While at camp, children are provided with free supplies, like pillows and sleeping bags.

During the camp, prison kids participate in a lot of fun activities:

  • Horseback riding
  • Bumper boat riding
  • Go-kart riding
  • Swimming
  • Making crafts and arts for their loved ones
  • Motorboat riding
  • Going inner tubing
  • Water sliding
  • Holding daily talks about their lives and families
Campers enjoying themselves during their day at Camp Agape Oregon with their counselors.
In a time where losing a parent to incarceration is still difficult to go through, it’s powerful that this camp offers these children an outlet to feel like they’re not alone and supported while their mother/father isn’t able to see them as often as they’d like. Image Source: Camp Agape Oregon

Since its formation, many kids with parents in prison attend each year. Some come back as counselors after they reach 18 years of age.

The Agape Youth Camp’s main source of funding is donations. The camp has been a success. Management branched out to Salem in 2017.

The 2018 year of Agape Youth Camps started on August 23rd.

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Abigael Shem
Abigael Shem has eight years of experience in academic, content, research and creative writing, editing and proofreading. Developing any type of content is now an easy task for her. When she's not writing, she enjoys singing, dancing, hiking, traveling and sports, especially football and basketball. Abigael currently writes news for prison loved ones on Prison Rideshare Network.