Sports & Arts Camp

What if every child grew up knowing that they are loved and accepted for exactly who they are?

Photo of Emma Morris
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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

Sports & Arts Camp was founded when a high school student encountered a group of elementary students who were unable to attend any other community summer camps due to lack of funding and reliable transportation. She decided to do something about it, and she approached the Shawnee Youth Coalition about putting on a completely free camp for some of the kids in our community. The coalition at the time hoped that some of our middle school and high schoolers would jump on the opportunity to pour into the future; they reached out to athletes to lead workshops like basketball and soccer, and artistic students to lead things like music and drama. They were driven and they were ready to make a difference in the lives of as many kids as possible. Fifteen years we are, and we have seen our camp succeed over and over again; we have built lasting relationships with hundreds of elementary-aged kids, been able to feed them during the summer, and taught them that they are worth something in the world.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)


Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • Oklahoma

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]


Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • Oklahoma

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]


Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Our project, Sports & Arts Camp, addresses multiple problems in our community, but they all stem from broken relationships. Through the process of building relationships and mentorships, other issues like hunger, poverty, and lack of community development can be addressed. Broken relationships persist and continue because of the hatred and the discouragement in the world, but at camp, we understand that if relationships are restored, other issues can be more easily fixed. Our staff members are some of the best youth in the world, and they do their best every year to connect personally with each camper; we are working on ways to continue our newly formed relationships throughout the school year.

Sports & Arts Camp provides the opportunity to create relationships and to simply love on the kids that need it most in our community. Continuing to do this will create long-term change and can potentially alter the course of some of our campers' lives.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Low-income communities

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Community Development and Empowerment

Year Founded


Project Stage

  • Established (the solution has passed the previous stages, and has demonstrated success)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

One of the most prominent ways that we see people engaging in our solution occurs when former campers come back as staff members. I had the same group of campers from their second grade year to their last year as campers- the summer after fifth grade. This year, eight of my campers returned as staff members, and I am so proud. One girl in particular stands out, however, because she is one of the girls who needed camp more than anyone; she and her siblings take food bags home after camp, they need the stability and the love that we provide at camp, they need to know they can be anything. This specific girl came back as a staff member this year, and she has done beautifully. She continuously pours into her campers and creates relationships.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Last year, we served roughly one hundred campers, and we had about fifty staff members on our camp-wide team. One tangible benefit of our camp is the food that we provide to our campers and our staff. Each day of our two week camp, the camp got to eat two afternoon snacks, and on the two full days that we had, we fed them lunch as well as two to three snacks throughout the day; in addition, we sent food home with about twenty-five people, both staff and campers. While these actions benefit so many people, we also always strive to build lasting relationships, in the form of mentors, friends, or friendly faces. In the coming years, we plan to expand camp to a potential of six to eight weeks, which would allow us to provide more food, go on more field trips, and truly show our campers and our staff that they are unique, incredible human beings who deserve all the world has to offer.

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • $1k - $10k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

In order to ensure that camp succeeds every year, we apply for multiple different grants, and they are written exclusively by our Youth Coalition members. We write grants for food, equipment, t-shirts, etc. We are looking in to ways to expand our camp. We solicit donations from our community and partner with organizations around town (such as Junior Service League and OSU Extension), and we plan on writing a large grant for a five-year plan.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

Currently, in the Shawnee community, there are no other organizations that do exactly what we do. Most camps have fees, and while some camps do offer scholarships, for some kids, that is still impossible. Plus, without public transportation, it is even harder for kids to get to camps that are far from home. Sports & Arts Camp is the only current camp that is completely free and is located in a central location, where it can be accessible to the most amount of kids. Our project is also different because our staff is composed completely of volunteers, and they are all middle and high schoolers.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

We believe that building solid relationships is the foundation for creating change and promoting children's wellbeing. Camp provides us with a way to explore new ways of helping out the children in our community, because our camp staff (and our campers that return as staff!) are drawn to the Shawnee Youth Coalition where they know they can make a change and be heard. Through the Youth Coalition, we are able to advance the wellbeing of our children by utilizing our staff throughout the year through mentorships and other activities that involve our at-risk campers.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Email

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka, who was it? (the answer will not be public)

Amy Walton

Evaluation results

11 evaluations so far

1. Relevance: Does this project seem to help children (ages 0 to 12 years) develop a strong sense of self, belonging, and purpose?

5 - Yes, this is great! The project lays out a strong, compelling case for how its model nurtures children’s wellbeing. - 9.1%

4 - It seems like a good fit, and the model talks explicitly about children’s wellbeing. - 72.7%

3 - I think so. The project seems related to children’s wellbeing, but the logic is vague. - 18.2%

2 - Not sure. The project doesn’t have much to do with wellbeing, or it doesn’t give enough information. - 0%

1 - Nope, this project definitely doesn’t fit the challenge brief (e.g., It doesn’t help kids younger than 12, isn’t in the U.S., etc.) - 0%

2. Innovation: Does this project tackle children’s wellbeing from a new angle?

5 - I loved this! The project describes a novel model that addresses important cultural or systemic barriers. - 18.2%

4 - This is pretty cool. The project is addressing an important problem in a new or compelling way. - 36.4%

3 - I feel like there’s something there, but I want more details about what makes it distinctive. - 18.2%

2 - It’s a good project, but I’ve seen others like it before. - 27.3%

1 - It was confusing or hard to tell what it made it different. - 0%

3. Social Impact: What is this project’s potential for creating positive social impact?

5 - Lots of potential. This project is achieving impressive results, and it’s growing quickly. It could absolutely inspire changes in the ways we approach caring for kids nationally, across sectors (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 9.1%

4 - Pretty good potential. This project demonstrates significant positive impact so far, and it could scale regionally or nationally one day and fundamentally change how a system operates (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 63.6%

3 - Budding potential. This project is creating local impact, but it would take a few adjustments before it could scale. - 18.2%

2 - Some potential. This project demonstrates some initial positive impact, but it would require major changes before it could scale. - 9.1%

1 - Limited potential. This project has great intentions, but it looks like it does not include key drivers of a shift towards children’s wellbeing. - 0%

4. Overall, how do you feel about this idea?

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 9.1%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 45.5%

3 - I think the idea is great, but it needs some work before it moves onto the next round. - 27.3%

2 - I liked it fine but preferred others. - 18.2%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. Needs significant revisions. - 0%

5. Offer some feedback. Where should this participant spend some time revising?

DEFINING THE PROBLEM. Make sure to articulate the root causes or main barriers of the social issue your project addresses. (Founding Story, Problem, Solution). - 40%

CLARITY OF MODEL. Make sure to mention (a.) the beneficiary, b) the main activities, and c) how those activities drive social impact. Keep it streamlined! - 40%

MARKETPLACE. Make sure to research other players in this space and articulate how this project is different. I didn’t get a complete sense of how this project compares to others. - 60%

IMPACT POTENTIAL. Make sure to use specific numbers to describe what your project has achieved so far! And consider how you might scale the model or its insights, through partnerships, trainings, or franchising. - 100%

WRITING STYLE. Try to stay concise and make it vivid. Avoid jargon. - 40%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 60%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Tesfaye Ayalew

I love the the idea!! Emma keep up the great work.

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