Kids on the Move offers outlet

Published 7:13 am Monday, July 28, 2014

By Monique Roth

The adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” can be applied to many situations, and Pastor Neil Bernard of New Wine Christian Fellowship in LaPlace recently used it to describe his church’s summer camp and all the camp hopes to produce in the lives of the hundreds of children it serves.

Now in its 11th year, New Wine’s Kids on the Move Summer Camp concluded this month after offering camp to children 3 to 13 years old, but specifically targeted for 8 to 12-year-olds. The camp provided area youth an opportunity to have some summer fun, as well as learn new skills and grow spiritually.

The mission statement is “to empower children and youth, especially those who are fatherless, to maximize their potential by providing them with character building, academic, social and value enrichment through supportive mentoring and wholesome recreational activities.”

Activities aside, Bernard is clear about the camp’s main mission.

“Our job is to introduce each child to Jesus Christ,” Bernard said.

A daily practice at the camp is a devotional time facilitated through small groups, which Bernard said the attendees always seem to enjoy. Different topics such as honesty, responsibility and integrity are discussed each week.

“It really gives the children opportunities to open up,” Bernard said. “Some of these kids are in horrendous situations.”

In the past 11 years, KOTM Summer Camp has served 1,825 campers, with half of those receiving scholarships to attend. Scholarships are provided to campers who come from single-parent homes with an annual income of less than $25,000, or who have a parent who is incarcerated.

“We want to instill in them some hopes and dreams,” Bernard said of the campers.

Over a decade ago he was inspired to work with parish youth after hearing Christian singer and minister Wintley Phipps speak about reaching out to young people.

Bernard said after hearing Phipps talk on how some states started to use fourth-grade reading levels to determine how many future prisoners that state may have, Bernard knew he wanted to inject hope into the lives of area youth.

The statistics are harrowing. Nearly 24 million American children are growing up fatherless, and 85 percent of children who have behavioral disorders are from fatherless homes.

Furthermore, 71 percent of high school dropouts are from fatherless homes, and children with an incarcerated parent are eight times more likely to be incarcerated than those without one. In some areas and situations, Bernard said, people are “basically raising prisoners.”

“Camp is a tool to help each child become all they can be,” Bernard said. “When you invest in a child, you can break the cycle.”

The camp, which started in year one with 30 children, has produced many testimonies from parents and youth, Bernard said.

“Buildings and programs don’t change people,” he said. “People change people.”

Bernard credits his staff and camp workers on their incredible job of staying passionate about the futures of the campers. That passion, he said, is the secret to the camp’s success.

In 2013, KOTM Summer Camp served over 456 children and employed over 70 youth and adults, and Bernard said 2014 is already another record-breaking year. For more information about the camp or to donate, visit