ReaLife marks 17th summer serving youth

ReaLife Philadelphia gears up for another summer of giving back with Kids Club 2017

Children participate in arts and crafts at Kids Camp 2016. PHOTO COURTESY OF ROB BURNS

By Melissa Komar

When Rob Burns moved to Bridesburg in 1999, he noticed there were a lot of children in the community.
And so, he, along with his family and a handful of volunteers, started a religious-based camp for kids in the summer of 2000.
A year later, Burns helped found the nonprofit ReaLife Philadelphia, a missional church, and the organization has been providing community service ever since.
For the 17th consecutive year, ReaLife will host its camp for kids, Kids Club 2017: Deep Sea Discovery, during the week of July 17.
“Bridesburg is a very family-oriented community and it’s an opportunity to serve those families and kids,” said Burns, who is also one of the pastors for the church, which was founded in 2007.
Serving the community means kids attend the camp free of charge.
Each night, the camp kicks off with a funny skit or introduction to get participants warmed up for activities.
Children are divided into three groups based on age and rotate through three stations throughout the night, which include games, crafts and Bible lessons.
Each group is guided through the activities by two adult volunteers, and there are additional volunteers manning each station.
Games are played at the Bridesburg Recreation Center across the street, and the crafts station gives the children the opportunity to make something to take with them.
The Bible station includes studying and reading verses from Scripture.
This year’s camp has an ocean theme.
“The direction for this year is going deep with God,” Burns said. “We want to take the current knowledge the kids have and expand on that.”
Many of the kids take that knowledge and return to pass it on to the next generation of campers.
Bridesburg resident Barbara Delaney registered her son Dylan when he was 5 years old and her daughter Danielle when she was 3 years old.
Dylan is now 23 and Danielle is 21, and Danielle, along with her mother, volunteer at the camp.
“We went every summer and they really enjoyed it,” Barbara said. “They just enjoyed the people there. And the snacks, of course.”
Barbara will help with the 6- and 7-year-old age group, and Danielle will volunteer throughout the week.
“Danielle always enjoyed helping the kids and now she’s actually going to be a teacher,” Barbara said. “But the camp is just really good to get the neighborhood kids together. They really look forward to it.”
Each year, the camp serves about 60 to 70 kids, with a limit of 80 spots to maintain a specific participant-to-volunteer ratio, according to Burns.
“We’re focused on serving kids from Bridesburg, but the camp is open to anyone. We have kids come from Port Richmond and Mayfair,” Burns said. “Our goal is just to serve the neighborhoods as best we can, and that includes spreading the love of God.”
Kids Club 2017: Deep Sea Discovery will be held at ReaLife, 4554 Richmond St., from Monday, July 17 to Thursday, July 20, from 6 to 8 p.m. Children ages 6 to 12 are welcome to attend. The camp is free. Registration can be completed the first night of camp at 6 p.m. or on the ReaLife website at realifephilly.org.