Summer camp promotes creativity, comradery, for a dozen foster teens

Foster care isn’t an easy time for many children.

At first, nothing seems normal. Once reality does sink in, heartbreak often isn’t far behind.

For three days though, a dozen teen girls get to forget all that – thanks to Camp for Champions, a summer partnership between Eckerd Kids and the Florida Department of Children and Families.

“The camp is full of activities for kids that are in licensed foster care,” explained Celeste Fernandez, the community development administrator for Florida’s DCF. “Over the next three days, we’ll be able to provide these girls with opportunities that they normally wouldn’t be able to experience. It’s something we look forward to.”

Now in its sixth year, Camp for Champions rotates annual between boys and girls.

This year’s batch of all-girl campers, who range between 12 and 17 years old, are about to embark on a fun-filled, three-day camp experience centered on creativity and comradery.

The first day featured a painting class, lunch in Downtown Dunedin, and a yoga session. Thursday will see an outing to Lowry Park Zoo, and Friday’s grand finale will be a spa day, lunch at Olive Garden and a special gift from Angels against Abuse.

For many of the girls, it’s the first time they’ve been doted on.

“We want them to remember a positive experience from foster care,” said Jess Sternthal, associate executive director at Eckerd Community Alternatives. “Ultimately, we want to create sense of normalcy and fun that they wouldn’t be exposed to typically. We want them to know that there are other kids that are experiencing the same thing.”

A number of businesses have donated their services to make this annual camp possible. If you would like to support Camp for Champions, please visit