Immokalee Foundation students experience CAMP

by Noemi Perez

A change of scenery was in order for 12 students who ventured to the Northeast for camps through The Immokalee Foundation. Mountains were on the horizon, lakes were outside their cabin doors, and forests were beckoning their exploration at Camp Deerwood in New Hampshire and Kingsley Pines camps in Maine.

For most, it was the first trip outside of Immokalee. Each spent three weeks outdoors in places where electronic screens were replaced by campfires. Like other foundation programs, campers were chosen based upon grades, involvement and accountability. Students wrote essays to apply for a chance to go to camp.

In addition to meeting friends from different places and cultures, “Our students were exposed to an array of exciting activities, such as kayaking, paddle boarding, rope swinging, swimming and tubing,” said Amber Barr, The Immokalee Foundation’s program services director. “Students also participated in arts and theater activities, such as dance, drawing and pottery, hiking, canoeing and mountain biking.

Through these camps our students were able to not just experience a new surrounding, but also learn new skills, build character and create lifelong friendships.” A few students were attending summer camp for a second time. Daniela Flores made her second trip to Kingsley Pines. Both times were great, she said, but this trip was even more special because “this year I got to be part of this thing called the ‘older girls circle’ and I made friendships that I think will last a lifetime.”

Since she returned to Immokalee, people can tell she has changed, she said. “At camp I met all these people who told me so much stuff I didn’t know about – I even learned from people who went to my school,” Flores said. “Before I went I was more closed-minded. I wasn’t so open to meeting new people. “Going there changed my experience about meeting people and about being open to those wanting to be friends. I was out of my comfort zone, but now I’m not so closed. Being independent is not as scary anymore. Going alone changed how I saw things too. I feel more confident in my own self now,” she said.

Joel Guerrero was among the 10 students who attended Kingsley Pines Camp. It was Guerrero’s second camping experience and he renewed a friendship with a boy he had met two years ago. “Now he was 6-foot-2,” Guerrero said. “He was taller than me before, but he really, really grew since then.” Oswaldo Santana is 13 and was a little bit nervous about being away from home so long. But it didn’t take him long to settle in, he said, and enjoy field trips, in particular. One two-day hike on a mountain was particularly memorable. “It was very different from Florida.”

Students are able to experience the world in meaningful ways due to the generosity of the nonprofit’s supporters during their major fundraising events –the Charity Classic Celebration gala and auction, scheduled at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, on November 9, and the November 12 Pro-Am golf tournament at Bay Colony Golf Club. The Charity Classic Celebration provides opportunities to support students through Fund A Dream™, a unique live bidding experience that enables donors to contribute to the future of Immokalee’s children in specific and tangible ways.

The Fund A Dream™ auction supports many important programs such as Immokalee Readers, career
development opportunities, internships, and scholarships for college, vocational programs and professional certifications designed to lead young people to professional careers and financial independence.
Tickets to the Charity Classic Celebration are $550 per person.

The Charity Classic Pro-Am will feature more than two dozen of the world’s greatest golfers – including headliners Annika Sorenstam and Bryson DeChambeau – who are paired with Southwest Florida’s most philanthropic players for a day of camaraderie in support of the foundation’s programs. Foursomes of amateur golfers will learn which professionals they will be paired with for the first and second nine holes of play
during an exclusive pairings party on November 11 at The Old Collier Golf Club.

For sponsorship and ticketing information, call 239-430-9122 or email
Corporate sponsors of this year’s events are Kelly Tractor, Presenting Sponsor; BCB Homes, Florida Community Bank and Huntington Private Bank, Success Circle Sponsors; BMO Private Bank and IBERIABANK, Pathways Circle Sponsors; and eBella Magazine, Media Sponsor.

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to professional careers through support, mentoring and tutoring, and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, its signature events, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, becoming a mentor, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit

Noemi Perez, executive director of The Immokalee Foundation, can be reached at:

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