Coffee, Camp And Creativity

Terry Gibson spends his days brewing coffee and beer. He works at Common Place Coffee and East End Brewing Company in Pittsburgh, PA, doing what he described as two really fun jobs.

But for six weeks this summer, Gibson, 28, has made time for something he sees as critically important: investing in the youth in his neighborhood. He volunteers at Freedom Camp, a free enrichment program offered to children in Garfield that’s run by Valley View Church and several other local churches.

“We do the basics you'd find in school, like reading, math, and science, but we add in fun activities like swimming and field trips,” Gibson said.

For Charity Haubrich, director of Christians Investing in Education, Freedom Camp, which typically hosts 45 campers from the Garfield neighborhood, addresses a serious issue that students face in the summer.

“In the summer months when children are away from the structured routine of reading, doing math and engaging in physical activity that school provides, a child can lose as much as two months of grade level learning,” Haubrich said.

While the curriculum that Freedom Camp offers focuses on math and reading, it also develops the campers’ creativity. Gibson teaches language arts, and this year is focusing on poetry.

“I really desire for the students to see poetry as a way to express themselves,” Gibson said. “They can just say what they feel, describe what they see, and share stories about people they know through poetry.”

It’s examples like Gibson’s that show the children and their parents that their neighbors are invested in them, noted Haubrich.

“The kids are taught at Freedom Camp by people who live in their neighborhood, so in addition to helping children advance in their grade level skills, Freedom Camp provides the community an opportunity to serve their neighborhood children,” Haubrich continued.

Gibson agreed.

“We’re interested in exposing and sharing this creativity with a child when they’re young and curiosity is at its highest,” he said. “We’re like mentors, ministers, and teachers all rolled up into one.”

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