summer mission trips
Since 2006, St. Matthew's has sent multi-generational work groups on week-long mission experiences with ages of the participants ranging from 15 to 70.
The mission of Urban Promise is to equip children and teens in Camden, New Jersey with the skills necessary foracademic achievement, life management, spiritual growth and leadership rooted in the principles of Christian faith. The Urban Promise community seeks to fulfill this mission through after school programs, summer camps, alternative schools, job training initiatives and a host of other programs.
Unique to the vision of Urban Promise is a commitment to involving local teenagers (Street Leaders) in the tutoring, mentoring, and coaching of younger children in the community. By involving teens in the leadership process, Urban Promise is creating a new generation of young, visionary leaders who embody a commitment to change their own community.
Urban Promise's efforts in Camden are focused through three main ministries:
- Since 1985, Urban Promise has run six week summer camps for Camden's children. Camps are dedicated to providing safe and structured environments where young people can grow academically, socially, emotionally and spiritually. Fun, educationally-based, age-appropriate activities are provided on a daily basis usually including art, Bible study, recreation, life skill work shops, community awareness activities, breakfast and lunch.
- Since 1988, Urban Promise Ministries After School Programs have been providing opportunities for children to improve their academic performance, develop important life skills, create positive relationships with caring adults, explore the creative arts, and nurture young faith in a safe, inviting and stimulating environment.
- The Camden Forward School opened in the fall of 1997 with just one class each of pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten. The school has added a new grade each year and now houses a quality private school education for approximately 130 students from Kindergarten through 8th grade. Founded in 1997, Urban Promise Academy (UPA) offers Camden teens a unique private Christian schooling opportunity. Students often enter the school 2 to 3 grade levels below national age level standards. Through low student/teacher ratios, a family style learning environment, personal accountability, an emphasis on community service, mentoring and weekly Bible classes, the Academy has seen tremendous success in prepar ing teens for post-secondary educational opportunities. Presently the school boasts of a 95% graduation rate with 90% of the graduates entering colleges and university.
A St. Matthew's work team's primary purpose in the summer is to serve with Urban Promise's ministry in Camden in any way that it can.
- Specifically, the team members work with the summer camp programs in the morning. These camps provide a refuge for the poorest children in Camden. These work in conjunction with Urban Promise's after school and school programs during the school year. During the camps, the team members get a chance to work with the leaders of Urban Promise and learn their methods of ministering to the disadvantaged of Camden. We will also get the chance to work with graduates of the Urban Promise ministry who give back by acting as teen leaders.
- In the afternoons, the team members help out on the campus of Urban Promise by doing light construction and maintenance work. This cuts down Urban Promise's costs and allows the staff to devote most of their human and monetary resources directly to helping their clients.
More information can be found at: urbanpromiseusa.org