A free summer camp is taking city kids out of the city for a change of scenery and a fresh perspective.
City Kids Camp in Lewistown, Illinois hosts hundreds of students from various groups around Chicago. It’s 200 miles away, but the journey makes a difference.
Many campers say violence, racism, or lack of resources usually keeps them indoors.
“I stay in my house because it’s not really a lot of kids on my block and it’s not really safe,” 16-year-old Kamaia Mitchell said.
Hector Corona founded the camp seven years ago to give Chicago kids a safe place to spend time outside.
“That’s my whole objective. It’s prevention of violence,” Corona said. “We want them to see a different life.”
Corona brings in mentors like teachers and retired police officers to talk to the kids about preventing violence, de-escalation and mental health. More than anything, the camp gives the kids a safe place to discover themselves.
“I can be my own person. I can be free,” Kamaia said. “Even though this world is a little cruel. You can still be who you are.”
Gaynor Hall, Geordan Tilley and photojournalist Eric Melcher report in this WGN-TV Cover Story.