LAKE HUGHES, Calif. —
What does swimming, rope climbing and camping have to do with fighting gang violence? Everything, according to the owner of a kids camp in Lake Hughes. More than 100 inner city kids are at Canyon Creek Camp in an effort to stop the cycle of gang violence in South Los Angeles. Jeff and Joyce Robinson own the camp.
“They are not having a childhood and they come up here and they have a chance at a childhood,” said Joyce Robinson.
For many of the 118 kids who stepped off a bus Friday morning at the camp, it was their first time away from the housing projects, the gangs and the violence that are too often a part of their daily lives.
“We are working toward something that is really historical,” said Joyce Robinson.
The Robinsons believe nature and love can touch children’s lives to help break the cycle of gang violence and crime in the inner city, one child at a time.
“They have never seen mountains. They’ve never seen deer. They can’t even dream about these things because they don’t even know they exist,” said Jeff Robinson.
“It’s fun and wonderful. You get to go hiking and swimming and all that,” said Toria Weaver, a camp participant.
For four years now, Canyon Creek Camp has hosted more than 3,000 inner city kids throughout Los Angeles. The Harold Robinson Foundation, named in honor of Jeff Robinson’s late father, picks up the more than $250,000 price tag per year to show these kids they are not enemies from rival gang territory, but rather just kids who deserve a better life.
“I grew up like them so I know how hard it is,” said camp counselor Darlene Frontuto. “We were stuck in apartments or having to watch what street we crossed just in case that was an enemy’s territory.”
Camp counselor James Anderson says the camp has a positive effect on the kids.
“Every single time we have a retreat up here, it always ends with these kids having open hearts and their parents crying because they see something they don’t see in their neighborhoods, and that’s love,” said Anderson.
To donate to the Harold Robinson Foundation, visit www.haroldrobinsonfoundation.org.