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Camp Fusion open to children ages 4-13

LAPLACE — Apostle Renita Graber and the Victorious Life Family Worship Center congregation saw a community need for children’s summer programming, especially after COVID-19 concerns cancelled many St. John the Baptist Parish summer camps.

When parents need to work, children need access to a safe environment. Located at 8896 Richmond Drive in LaPlace, Camp Fusion is open this summer to children ages 4 to 13. Camp hours are from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday until July 24, and before and after care is provided as needed.

Director Cawanda Thomas said Camp Fusion provides a unique mix of recreational activities, STEM-based education and opportunities for children to unleash their creativity with support from positive role models.

“We want to bring in different things that our kids may not otherwise have an opportunity to have exposure to,” Thomas said. “You never know; it could be at this camp that one of these kids decides, this is the path I want to take. I really can do this.”

Fridays feature special guests to encourage campers to shoot for the stars. This week’s featured guest is a young woman who has appeared in New Orleans Fashion Week for emergent designers. She plans to mentor some of the students who are interested in fashion and design. Another special guest is an experienced New Orleans dancer who will come to LaPlace to host a ballet class with the children.

Children at Camp Fusion can explore their creativity with crafts and enjoy a dip in the Olympic-sized swimming pool on campus. They also enjoy friendly competition around ping-pong and hockey tables and on the basketball court.

After a morning call to worship, the campers spend the first part of the day completing fun activities with a focus on literacy and STEM concepts. Many of these projects are hands-on and sensory-based. Campers have already made spinning pinwheels, orchestrated their own volcanic explosions and inflated balloons with hydrogen peroxide.

As a 30-year educator, Graber knows that children lose a lot of learning over the summer. The need for continued learning is compounded this year since children missed months of school for the coronavirus pandemic.

Campers have ample space to work on their fitness.

“In the morning, we have enrichment to try to bridge the gap of the months they lost being out of school. I know the importance of the kids getting all of the necessary skills before they go to the next grade,” Graber said. “It’s a passion of ours here at Fusion Youth Camp to make sure the kids are well prepared academically, and we want to get them back into the groove of things socially after they were shut in for about three months.”

Several precautions have been put in place to ensure the health of all children and families.

Thomas said the facility provides ample space to separate children into the following age groups: 4-5, 6-7, 8-10 and 11-13. Groups move and eat lunch together as a unit and stay together as a “family” throughout the day.

Parents do not come onto campus when dropping off their children. Instead, parents are asked to sign their children into camp using a mobile app and a QR code. Parents will wait in their car as camp volunteers take their child’s temperature at the gate. Screening questions are also asked, and hand sanitizer is provided.

Hand washing and sanitation have been worked into the daily routine. While facemasks currently remain optional for young children, campers in the 11- to 13-year-old age group are strongly advised to wear masks. All workers are required to wear facemasks according to state guidelines.

There is a non-refundable one-time registration fee of $35 for the first child and $20 for each additional child.
Weekly costs are $75 for full-time campers (Monday through Friday) and $50 for part-time campers who attend camp three days per week. Payment is due no later than the Friday prior to the week the camper will attend. Lunch is provided, and snacks are available for purchase.

Victorious Life Christian Center is no stranger to outreach. From bringing Christmas spirit to Twin Oaks Nursing Home to empowering at-risk girls in the local school system, the congregation has always been willing to meet the community’s needs.

“We found that so many people were having problems finding daycares. We’re basically filling in the gap,” Thomas said. “Whenever the need arrives, someone has to step up, and I’m a firm believer that the church should be the one to step up and fill in whatever need the community has.”

For more information, please call 985-212-0553 or email fusion.youth.outreach@gmail.com.