UrbanPromise’s two after-school ‘camps’ – one in East Vancouver and the other in Whalley, near Surrey’s Central City – are no more.
Featured in a Church for Vancouver story earlier this year, Camp Hope and Camp Peace had operated respectively out of First Christian Reformed Church in East Vancouver and Whalley Presbyterian Church in Surrey for several years. They were the last remaining of similar Vancouver-based programs operating for a time, also, out of First Baptist, Grandview Calvary Baptist and Culloden Mennonite Brethren, respectively in the Downtown, Commercial Drive and South Vancouver neighbourhoods.
The camps have provided help with homework, meals and snacks, recreational opportunities, basic Bible teaching and leadership development for ‘at risk’ young people in what they generally described as ‘under-resourced’ neighbourhoods. The last camp took place April 17.
Neil Singh, moderator of UrbanPromise Ministries Vancouver (UPV) says that neither the after-school programs nor the summer camps will be operated in “the foreseeable future.”
Singh cites lack of continuing financial resources as the main reason for the closure, though he notes: “We did hold a donor appreciation evening April 23, and a garage sale/BBQ for staff and supporters April 26. We have received many well wishes, and the final gifts have allowed us to close the camps with no debt.”
He says the ministry will also be looking at its leadership development strategies during the hiatus period.
Having just returned from the UrbanPromise International (UPI) board meeting, Singh points out that “the UPI board has affirmed the planned direction of UPV to close camps for now, but to look for opportunities to re-boot or restart the ministry.”
UrbanPromise Ministries Vancouver will continue to exist as a charitable entity, enabling donors, for example, to raise funds and support interns in other UP sites such as Honduras or Camden, New Jersey. (The latter site is the original UrbanPromise site, and was developed with the inspiration of Christian sociologist Tony Campolo and Vancouver’s Bruce Main.)
Notes Singh, on UP’s Facebook page: “There have been many lives impacted by many dedicated staff, volunteers and supporters of UrbanPromise Vancouver. He said that the closing out operation included “doing our best to find alternate childcare options for the families affected by this shutdown.”
In another Facebook message, he said: “How do you close 16 years of camps in one month? How do you say goodbye to donors, partners, staff, interns, streetleaders, kids and families? How do you pack 17 years of ministry into one banker’s box, one hard drive, and one 5×5 storage locker? How do you do things well, to honor the Lord, to withstand the pressure of these last days? How do you then set things up to continue in the future, to allow everyone time and space to wait expectantly on the Lord, to see what and where he will lead UPV in the future?
He added, in conversation, “There is an ongoing need for children’s ministries in the Lower Mainland, reaching these most at-risk children. We hope that UPV will be part of meeting that need in the future.”