House in the Wood: a Haven for At-Risk Youth
Imagine a world where the only sights you’ve ever seen are the sidewalks and alleys within blocks of your home. Imagine living minutes away from a Great Lake, yet never catching sight of it, much less swimming in it. Imagine not having three meals a day, or even one meal a day.
This scenario is a reality for many young children living in Chicago’s inner city. In a triumphant effort to reach out to at-risk urban youth in their most impressionable stage of life, the North Shore Board of the Northwestern University Settlement House supports House In The Wood, a 23-acre, co-ed resident camp overlooking Lake Delavan in Wisconsin. Here, campers ages 7 to 17 are offered a positive alternative to negative behaviors, within the context of an outdoor camp experience. Led by counselors, practices of self-confidence, leadership, teamwork, hygiene, health, and appreciation for the environment are taught during the campers’ stay. Campers develop character in the hopes of breaking the poverty cycle in order to pave the way for a successful start in life.
The dream of going to House In The Wood is made possible to 400 children each year thanks to the hard work of the North Shore Board. Their signature event, The Glitter Ball, held this year on November 5 at the Four Seasons in Chicago, is the vehicle in which this vision comes alive. “There are stories told every year about inner city kids who get a chance to get out of the urban setting and into a quiet environment. It’s so much more than just a camp,” explains ABC 7 anchor Ron Magers, the event’s live auctioneer and all-around supporter. “It’s a place where they learn about individual responsibility and getting along in a group. For a lot of these kids, to get even a moment’s relief from the hard scrabble of their lives is so welcome.”
About 40 percent of the campers have drug addiction within their families, and 78 percent come from single parent homes. What a relief a structured day of meals, swimming, boating, arts and crafts, games, and singing can be to a young child who faces such adversity at home. Countless stories of pride are told each summer season as children return, including how they learned to use a knife and fork at camp, then taught their younger siblings upon returning home.
The Glitter Ball, co-chaired by Linda O’Toole and Kate McBreen of Winnetka, and Ginny Burnstine of Glencoe, promises to be an evening of dinner, dancing, and truly outstanding live and silent auctions. The funds raised from the evening go toward House In The Wood, which remarkably celebrated its 100th anniversary last year. “You can be assured that a significant part of your contribution for the evening goes directly to getting kids to camp,” says Magers. “There are few events in Chicago that I’ve done for several years. This is an organization I can comfortably support and does their benefit well.”
For more information about the 2011 Glitter Ball or the House In The Wood camp, call North Shore Board President Barbie Myers at 847-441-8209. Tickets for the Glitter Ball can be purchased by visiting events.org/glitterball.