WEHATON, Ill. — A west suburban camp is giving hundreds of Chicago kids refuge from some of the city’s most violence-plagued neighborhoods.

Every week this summer, nearly 80 kids will load onto a bus outside West Garfield’s Off the Street Club to a secluded place 25 miles outside the city called Camp Mathieu.

From camper to executive director, Arnett Morris spends nine weeks at Wheaton’s Camp Mathieu and  oversees nearly a thousand kids from Chicago every summer

“The reason Off the Street and Camp Mathieu is so important to me is because it was once my salvation,” Morris said. “As a kid, I came to this camp and it saved my life. On the West Side, the word safety is almost non-existent. You can walk into a situation any day and be in a lot of trouble.”

The camp provides a reprieve from the stress these kids intimately know.

“When you come to camp you can put all that to the side, check your fear at the gate and you can come here and just be a camper,” Morris said.

Through fundraising, many of the kids have the opportunity to come here without cost and experience firsts that city living doesn’t always afford.