“No matter who you are or where you come from, you will always be accepted at Camp AmeriKids.”
- Camp AmeriKids camper, Coyote Cabin
1.8 million children worldwide have HIV.
The ELM Project enhances the lives of underserved youth living with chronic illness by providing an enriching summer camp experience and the tools for a healthy, independent future.
We are committed to our mission of uplifting and empowering disadvantaged youth by equipping them with the tools and resources to lead successful, independent, and productive lives. Our programs provide children with opportunities to obtain critical life skills, learn how to trust themselves and others, discover new strengths and passions, and believe in their own potential.
Through the years, we've realized the special connection we develop with the children we serve and the continued impact we can have by being a guiding presence in their lives over time. It remains our firm conviction that children should have the opportunity to experience the carefree joys of childhood — regardless of their economic, social, or medical challenges.
In 2015, to better represent the various opportunities available, we adopted the name The ELM Project. ELM stands for Encourage, Lead, Mentor — representing the tenets we strive for in our programming.
In 1995, Americares founder Robert C. Macauley founded Camp AmeriKids as a residential summer camp program for children living with HIV/AIDS. The program was created in the hopes of reaching an underserved population close to home.
We were one of the first non-profits to develop a transitional program for HIV-affected youth. In 2005, we launched a leadership program called the Leader-In-Training (LIT) Program — an initiative to support teens at a critical juncture in their adolescent lives.
In 2009, due to the economic downturn, Americares made the difficult decision to cut programs that were not core to their mission of disaster aid: this included ours. Committed to providing the children we serve a safe space to call their own and a community of individuals who care about them, Camp AmeriKids forged ahead as an independent non-profit with the help of loyal donors, board members, and friends.
In 2011, staying true to our roots of being at the forefront of underserved health conditions, and at the urging of our hospital and agency partners, we opened our doors to include children with sickle cell disease. Similar to our youth affected by HIV, many sickle cell children face stigma associated with their condition due to a lack of understanding and knowledge by the general population.
Over 400,000 infants will be born with sickle cell disease every year.
Our Mentor Program launched in 2015 to provide our underserved youth additional guidance and support as they transition into adulthood with one-on-one mentor relationships. Through the addition of our leader-in-training and mentor programs, we have grown into an organization that supports youth from childhood through young adulthood (ages 8-21).
Our organization strives to create an atmosphere where growth isn’t pushed on youth, but something they choose to pursue. For many families in our program, The ELM Project is the only place where their children can go to feel safe and supported.
We are more than a camp, a mentorship, a non-profit. We are a family.
“I am more confident and independent in the idea that now I am able to explore things on my own and take chances.”
— Camp AmeriKids camper, Owl Cabin
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