In 1937 a great flood poured over the banks of the Ohio River, submerging the streets of Cincinnati and causing schools, factories and stores to be closed. The displacement and loss in their parish inspired a leader of St. Barnabas Episcopal Mission in the West End, Captain Laurence “Cap” Hall, and his wife Sadie, to create a safe haven, a ‘place of Joy’ for children already suffering from poverty and intense summer heat.
In 1945 the Rev. Maurice “Mac” McCrackin, a prominent Presbyterian leader, integrated the St. Barnabas – West Cincinnati Church, newly formed through a merger that preserved two declining Episcopal and Presbyterian congregations. Then in 1947, Mac led the way to make Camp Joy the first integrated camp in this area for inner-city youth.
After moving through five different locations, Camp Joy found its permanent home in 1959 on 317 acres in Clarksville, Ohio in Warren County. Continuing its tradition of inclusion, Camp Joy’s services have expanded to serve over 13,000 participants a year, including children with medical challenges, in foster care or other hardships.
Partnering with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Camp Joy serves over 800 children and families through 15 programs for campers with heart conditions, cancer, juvenile arthritis, blood diseases, asthma, cerebral palsy, tuberous sclerosis and other medical challenges.
In addition, the camp serves area schools through life-changing outdoor education and the business community through leadership and teambuilding programs.
The connection with the Episcopal Church remains strong. Support from Christ Church Cathedral’s Camping and Youth Opportunities Committee provides scholarships for youth living in foster homes or struggling neighborhoods, and many supporters through the Indian Hill Church have also been involved in supporting Camp Joy’s mission. But Camp Joy is hoping to further reconnect with the diocese to explore possibilities to work together to serve youth in our community. The camp is happy to host any Episcopalians who are interested in discussing possibilities on how their work can enhance diocese programs.
You can learn more about Camp Joy on their website, www.camp-joy.org
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Mike McGinty serves as Executive Director for Camp Joy Foundation. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org