We receive lots of letters and messages regarding the experiences, positive growth and impact made on the lives of young men that benefit from our program. These are a few of those letters.
On behalf of our Son of a Saint Mentees, mentors, Staff and parents, I want to say thank you for having our boys at Camp Rockmont again this year. We are all extremely grateful for this wonderful opportunity each year. During our 12 hour drive back to New Orleans, I heard numerous stories about camp, counselors and Staff. You all have made a lasting positive impression on our boys and program, and for that I say THANK YOU! I am looking forward to the future of our great partnership.
Good Morning. As I reflect on this past summer and the AW, I wanted to share a few thoughts. This summer I had 6 campers, 4 of whom were returning for the second summer to AW. Prior to leaving, there was the usual excitement and anticipation of the fun week ahead. What I noticed, from the returning campers, was a sense of confidence, as they knew they could do this from the prior summer experience. After AW week was over, the confidence was cemented a bit deeper- there were stories of trying harder activities and a comfort level of talking all about what they experienced instead of being a bit quiet.
This confidence, I am convinced, seeps into their daily lives and stays with them. Not only did they have a week away from home allowing for a chance to participate in all of AW, they also gained an inner strength, which has the potential to change lives
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to see this magic.
Your in-kind support is critical to our ability to improve the lives of 100 fatherless boys in our program. Each boy comes to us with different needs and circumstances. Our holistic approach enables us to meet each mentee where he is, and provide him with a positive male role model, education support, mental health services, college and career exploration, group activities, and more. Son of a Saint’s work is for everyone who loves New Orleans. We are not merely putting a bandaid on the symptoms; we are going deep and solving the problem of fatherlessness one boy at a time.
Every boy has a right path and a wrong path in front of him. The moment he’s accepted into Son of a Saint, the wrong path vanishes – he is no longer in danger of becoming a future prison inmate, a victim or perpetrator of violence, or an absent father. Instead, we’ll see the positive ripple effect of the boy on the right path, felt in his family, school, neighborhood, and even at the city level. This kid is a future leader, father, and example. A vicious cycle is stopped in its tracks.
Because of your support, we will continue building leaders and making New Orleans a safer and more equitable community for all. Thank you.
Bivian “Sonny” Lee, Ill
Founder and Executive Director
Son of a Saint
Dear Paul and staff,
Thank you so very much for all that you do to give our boys an amazing week at Camp Rockmont! They always come back so happy and determined to live a more Christ like life. I don’t know that you all realize the impact you’ve made over the years, but we at BBBS are so grateful. Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you all. Have a blessed day!
Charlene, Allison, Dana
We cannot thank you enough for providing scholarships for our New City boys to attend Camp Rockmont this summer. In the one week since school started back, Rockmont has been the talk of the town! We’ve heard about zip-lining, horseback riding, the “blob”, paddle boarding, amazing food, caring counselors and much more.
Rockmont was an invaluable experience that will live in our boys’ memories for many years to come.
Thank you for making such an amazing opportunity possible for them! New City is incredibly blessed to have friends, like you, who invest intentionally and generously in our students.
Blessings for a successful (and restful) fall,
Director of Communications & Operations
It’s been 28 years this summer since I was last at Rockmont. I’m sure I had no idea back in 1994 when I left that it would be my last glimpse of that heaven on earth for nearly 3 decades. But to someone who has dedicated their life to Camp Rockmont, I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that my memories are far closer and much stronger than the time that has passed. Every summer my senses bring me back. The smell of the grass in the morning as the steam rises from Eden Lake. The sound of songs and chants at morning retreat. The excitement of the day to come; archery, crafts, hiking, swimming, zip lining, canoeing… After all these years, I still have vivid dreams about Rockmont, the counselors and friends that I met there, and I can close my eyes and still see the view from Eden Rock! Sometimes I wake up wondering if there’s ever been a 43yo camper or CIT, lol. It’s a place where I think I will forever be a kid
The reason for my writing is this past week, I lost one of my best friends to appendiceal cancer. His name was Trevor and he was 42. He wasn’t a camper and he has no connection to Rockmont, but there’s a reason I am mentioning him here. As I watched him battle cancer with dignity and grace, acceptance, and unwavering love for God, it dawned on me that he was the best example of the Rockmont Camp Motto I had ever met. Strength and Gentleness, Force and Refinement, Mastery of Body, and Servitude to God. He fought with every one of these core principles. He lived them right up until the end. It is in his memory that I would like to make this donation. I would like to help those boys who need assistance to be able to experience this most amazing place. The most inspiring and memorable place I have ever been, in hopes it will leave a similar mark in their lives. I want to honor my friend who lived these principles in a way that will help another young man discover them.
Michael Prince, 88-94
Last year, Charlotte volunteer Ellen Lowry arranged for a van to carry eight boys from low-income families to their first summer camp experience near Black Mountain. When she returned five days later to pick them up, Lowry was overjoyed to see their smiling faces. One of the boys was excited to have been able to swim well enough to gain unrestricted access to the camp’s large lake. “He told me, ‘I rode a horse, and I did not need a swim bracelet,”” Lowry said. “It was like his whole world changed.”
Lowry will return to Camp Rockmont this month with six boys. They’ll be among 100 underprivileged kids whose tuition is covered by scholarships, including five from the Summer Camp Fund (the Summer Camp Fund is a contributor to Camp Diversity Foundation).
Camp Rockmont, an all-boys camp on 600 acres in the N.C. mountains, features a lake, hiking trails, a nature center and a garden to raise flowers and vegetables. Lowry, who recruited campers through her relationships with families at Leafcrest apartments, a subsidized housing complex in southwest Charlotte, said the boys raved about the “delicious food” and all the choices they had. They marveled at the canteen, where they could pick what they wanted, from ice cream sandwiches to candy bars. And they loved being able to try so many activities, such as archery, horseback riding and zip lining. Although summer camp may not be unusual for children from affluent families, Lowry said most of the children she took to camp had never been away from home. For them, she said, going to camp takes “resilience. determination and bravery.”
“Camp Rockmont builds confidence,” Lowry said. “It teaches them they can get out of their environment and be successful.”Paul Gwaltney, executive director of Camp Diversity Foundation, which supports Camp Rockmont with scholarships, said he’s glad to help boys from low-income families attend summer camp. Today when I see these little guys, they remind me a lot of myself when I was that age.”
Gwaltney grew up near Black Mountain and, during high school and college, he worked at Camp Rockmont on the maintenance crew and as a camp counselor. After college, he spent four years as camp director. “My family couldn’t begin to afford to send me to a nice camp,” Gwaltney said. But working there taught him some of the same lessons that campers learn. “There were very high standards…I saw people model godly character, honesty and diligence. … The seeds that are planted, some of them sprout and bring forth great fruit. That’s why I do it. I just believe in the value of it.”
430 Lake Eden Rd, Black Mountain, NC 28711.