Camp Palmer: A Summer Tradition

July 28, 2017

Summer at Palmer Home for Children started off strong this year with our forty-ninth trip to Camp Palmer. While the late spring breezes blew cool over the campus, Palmer Home children mixed with children from the families of Independent Presbyterian Church, Memphis for a week of horseback riding, nature hikes, arts and crafts activities, and plenty of swimming.

A lot of planning goes into creating opportunities for different age groups. Younger children spend more time in arts and crafts, gymnasium activities, swimming and horseback riding. Activities for the older children get a little more adventurous with white water rafting, archery and hiking Little River Canyon.

“All the things you expect to do at camp, they do there,” said Robert Farris, Vice President of Rescue at Palmer Home for Children.

What Palmer Camp offers that no other camp can is an opportunity for children from very different backgrounds to form lasting bonds.

“It’s always interesting because you’re bringing two cultures together,” said Farris.

At the beginning of the week it’s easy to tell who the “Memphis” kids are and who the “Palmer Home” kids are. Each group tends to sit with and talk to the people they know. By the end of the week, however, those differences blend together to one group of happy, tired (and often dirty) kids.

“Camp levels the playing field, and none of those differences matter because you are all buddies,” said Farris.

Some camp relationships extend far beyond the one week the children all spend together at Camp Palmer. IPC families have pursued sponsorship opportunities with Palmer Home children they’ve met through camp. Sponsorships range from eating out together once a month to weekend visits to the sponsor’s home and vacations together.

Farris recalls one child who spent almost his entire childhood at Palmer Home. When he graduated from high school and moved to Memphis for college, the relationships he established with IPC grounded him through those years and even helped find employment afterward.

As a long time supporter of Palmer Home, IPC started Camp Palmer as an opportunity for children from Palmer Home to enjoy a camp experience and for houseparents (who at the time did not have a plan for respite care) to enjoy some time off. The camp and the relationships it fosters have come a long way in almost fifty years.

To hear from the campers themselves, check out the video on this page.