Chicago’s Very Own: Camp Compassion

CampCompassionMost summer camps are run by park districts, schools and sometimes big organizations.

But there’s a camp that’s been going on for three years now that’s totally run by two high school students.

And the campers who attend aren’t only having fun doing the usual stuff, they’re giving back to the community.

It’s mid-June and Kailee Nardi and Emily Peterson are setting up shop for their weeklong day camp.

The Naperville North High School sophomores, aren’t the camp counselors — these girls run the place!

“It was just something nice to do for someone else while having a good time at the same time,” Emily said.

Kailee and Emily started the camp a couple of years ago. Their girlfriend Mary Kate Murphy has since come on board.

They got the idea after spending summers at a similar camp run by a friend’s big sister. When she went away to college, she shut that camp down,  leaving a lot of unhappy campers.

“So we were thinking it would be great if we could find some way to continue it because all these girls now were looking for something to do,” Kailee said.

That’s how Camp Compassion came to be.

Camp Compassion lasts just a week. And it’s only for young girls. It has the usual crafts and games, but the main mission of this summer tradition is to teach girls the importance of making a difference in their community.

Camp tuition is a total of $30  for the week: $25 for charity and $5 for art supplies..

“All our proceeds go directly to DuPage PADS, that’s where our main donation is. We also collect items throughout the week for our children’s homestead, which is like a foster care program and also DuPage Animal Care and Control,” Kailee said.

“I just like having fun with my friends and helping,” said camper Noelle Bansi.

“The more girls, the more money, the more donations, and it’s just such a good thing,” Emily said.

“I think that this is such a great idea. I like how we can help people in need,” said camper Mia Fernandez, 10.

Camp Compassion is run out of Kailee’s parent’s backyard in Lisle. The Nardis not only open up their home to dozens of campers and counselors, each year, but they provide all of the food.

“Things get broken and a lot of stickiness all over the floors, and that’s OK,” Tracey Nardi said.

Tracey Nardi also started a key component to Camp Compassion: The Inner Beauty Station.

“So we really want them to focus on their inside appearance and opening their eyes to the needs of others,” Tracey said.

“They have had speakers in to talk about what it really means to have inner beauty versus just. you know, what society judges as beauty,” Kailee said.

First Camp Compassion and later, who knows what these girls will achieve.

Kailee Nardi, Emily Peterson, and all the girls at Camp Compassion. They’re Chicago’s Very Own.

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