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Tomorrow Is Mine shows children their futures are open to whatever they want to do [Register-Herald]

By Gailyn Jackson Register-Herald Reporter [Article and Images]

WVU Tech’s Tomorrow Is Mine Camp, a weeklong summer camp program where children ages 10 to 13 have a chance to explore different careers and make new friends while still enjoying a traditional camping experience.

Tomorrow Is Mine's 36 campers have come from several southern West Virginia counties, including Boone, Wyoming, McDowell, Lincoln. Logan, Raleigh, and Summers.

Dr. Larry Rhodes, WVU Tech dean of health science programs and organizer of the camp, expressed his gratitude for the camp taking place on the Tech campus.

“Just to be in this grand building and on this campus is truly remarkable”

He shared that the purpose of the camp — as the name suggests — is “to offer the opportunity to children to show them that their future is open for them with whatever they want to do in life.”

Having been a pediatric cardiologist for over 30 years, Rhodes has been around all different kinds of children.

Rhodes was taught to always ask a child what they wanted to be when they grow up. It didn’t matter what their answer as long as they did have an answer.

He noticed as the years went on that more and more children seemed unsure of their future — what they wanted to be, what they wanted to do, where they wanted to go — and could not answer his question.

“Today there are more people being incarcerated than going to college.” Rhodes stated.

The looming realization that children were losing hope for their future is what sparked the creation of Tomorrow Is Mine.

“Our goal is to make these kids feel like they have a tomorrow.”

The camp is designed to foster self-esteem in the lives of these young students.

First, this is accomplished by introducing the campers to “parade winners.”

“If you have grown up and you can support yourself or your family, then in my eyes you are a winner.” Rhodes stated.

This year’s “parade winners” are people from the same counties as the campers, but they are also people from all walks of life.

Among the “parade winners” is internationally known artist, Jamie Lester; several prosecuting attorneys from Boone County; a woman from McDowell who will speak about music and the arts; former state Department of Health and Human Services secretary Karen Bowling among many others.

These individuals will educate the campers on different things such as first aid, cooking, art, music, legal practices, medical practices, etc.

The second way in which Tomorrow Is Mine works to boost self-esteem is through field trips. Over the course of the week the children will go to Lake Stephens, Organ Cave, the New River Gorge Bridge, the state Capitol, The Clay Center, and Power Park.

Enjoying recreational activities allows the children to mingle with each other while experiencing new and exciting things.

“It’s these moments that make the camp special … there is magic in this camp,” said Rhodes.

The camp at Carter Hall began Monday June 25 and continues through Friday.