Camp Gives Children of Violence a Week of Peace Teenager Laura Marrin created a camp for children from violent homes. She raised enough money to allow 37 children a week of arts, crafts and healing. Now she will focus on her own senior year of high school.
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Camp Gives Children of Violence a Week of Peace

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Camp Gives Children of Violence a Week of Peace

Camp Gives Children of Violence a Week of Peace

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

Coming up, whatever happened to what's his name? John Pomfret looks up some old classmates from China.

But first, Laura Marrin is about to begin her senior year of high school in Providence, Rhode Island, but she's already concerned with urgent and important work. This week, she's running a summer camp for 37 children coming from homes afflicted with domestic violence. Laura Marrin joins us from Rhode Island.

Thanks very much for being with us.

Ms. LAURA MARRIN (High School Student): Thank you.

SIMON: What motivated you?

Ms. MARRIN: What motivated me? Well, I have to say it started back when I was a sophomore in high school.

SIMON: Mm-hmm.

Ms. MARRIN: And I was getting ready to present a mock trial case in a Rhode Island courtroom and there was a trial still going on. And the judge invited us all to sit in the back of the courtroom and witness our judicial system in process. And the case that was going on was between a woman with two children who was bringing a suit against her former boyfriend who had domestically abused her children. And as she was bringing the suit, she was not awarded a public defender and wasn't able to afford legal representation.

And I just seemed to see our judicial system failing her. She was just kind of not seeming to be getting the support she should have in the situation that she was in. And that's when it kind of hit me. I wanted to do something to try to help these children and families who seem to be impacted by domestic violence. And I came up with the idea of a summer camp because, as many parents know, summer camps our exceedingly costly. And I discovered that a lot of families impacted by domestic violence, due their socio-economic situations, they don't have that type of spending. And I wanted to give these children a chance for just a week to be like other kids and have a mini-vacation that was safe, fun and free to them.

SIMON: And what do they do?

Ms. MARRIN: We have arts and craft activities for the different age groups. They're currently working on theater skits and songs, which they'll be performing on the final conclusion of camp. We do sports and games. We take them on field trips to various places, local bowling allies, local children's museums.

SIMON: Got to be expensive.

Ms. MARRIN: Oh, it certainly is, as is any summer camp. But a fundraising campaign contributed and was able to make it so that none of the 37 children attending had to pay a single dime to come to this camp for the week. I wrote to Mount Holyoke College, and of this May I received a $500 grant from them that I put toward starting, really, Camp Eureka. And I then started a fundraising letter campaign, which I sent out to an array of local organizations and national organizations, and received a very favorable response from in-store donations to monetary donations, including an anonymous donor who even covered all of the bus costs, for picking up the children every morning to dropping them off, to paying for their field trips. And as everyone knows, with the cost of fuel today, that was quite pricey.

SIMON: You must be aware of the fact that you, as you near the end of the camp, that this is one week out of their lives.

Ms. MARRIN: No. This certainly is one week. Luckily, most of them are in stabilized homes now. They're no longer being shouted at or having to witness any form of domestic violence. And while it's only a week of fun and excitement, it's a week that's going to remind them of friendships they formed, a week that'll remind them of how they can peacefully deal with things. And more importantly, I'm hoping a week that will remind them that someone reached out to them, someone tried to touch their life.

SIMON: Is it fun to watch these youngsters?

Ms. MARRIN: Fun? I probably use a different adjective. I'd probably say inspiring. I had about 37 children come this Monday who were shy, shy little clams that weren't saying a word, weren't even willing to say their names to each other. And over the last four days, I've seen them grow. I've seen them develop. I've seen them make friends, and I feel inspired. I feel inspired to go out and try to make more of a difference in the world, because I think I've been able to get through to many of these children, if not all of them, in some way.

SIMON: Mm-hmm. Laura Marrin runs Camp Eureka in Rhode Island, speaking with us from Providence. Thanks so much.

Ms. MARRIN: Thank you.

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