#CCHACares: Camptown

POST DATE: 10.26.22

This October 2022, CCHA is excited to highlight Camptown as our monthly #CCHACares feature.

CCHA Partner Greg Schrage is a proud Board Member of the organization and nominated their efforts for this recognition.

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Their “Why”

Camptown’s “why” is noble yet multifaceted — to challenge, mentor, and teach youth about life through outdoor adventure and nature programs that help build confidence, character, and hope.

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Their History

Tom Lehman, an Indianapolis salesman, founded Camptown out of his home in 1991. Soon thereafter, he left the business world to fully focus on growing Camptown’s reach across Central Indiana. Tom wanted to give youth from all backgrounds an opportunity to get outside of their neighborhood and into nature, where they could try new things and learn new skills outdoors. Tom’s goal was that the Camptown experience would enrich the lives of Indianapolis youth and give them a positive life-changing experience they would not otherwise have access to. Since its inception, Camptown has served more than 46,000 youth and is on trajectory to serve more youth this year than ever before!

Their Team

Thanks to organic growth and an exciting new program initiative, Camptown has grown from 5 full time employees to 20 full and part-time employees with the same dedication and goals that Tom brought when he founded the program. Sadly, Tom passed away in 2003, though his legacy shines on each day through the work Camptown carries on through today’s staff and volunteers. Today’s staff team includes a range of educators, experienced outdoor facilitators, and college students.

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Their Programming

Wilderness Adventures

All Camptown Adventures, with the exception of indoor climbing programs in the Camptown CRUX, take place in the great outdoors. A Wilderness Adventure begins with a pre-trip training class ranging in length from 1/2 hour to two hours. Camptown Staff visits the partner’s location (whether that be at a school, a community center, or church) and facilitates an after-school or evening training class.

Class topics include wilderness survival, backcountry skills, environmental stewardship, team building, and leadership skills. These programs are led by experienced facilitators who make class time interactive and fun. After completing the training classes, the group gets outside! This can range from a day hike in a local state park to a full week in the wilderness on a backpacking trip in distant locations such as the Big South Fork in Tennessee. Camptown’s programs are customizable. Upon request, Camptown staff will develop a program unique to your group’s specific needs and desired outcomes.

2022 Annual Report

Youth With Differing Abilities

At Camptown, they believe any and all who desire it should enjoy the outdoors. Their Trailblazers program is for youth with differing abilities and is designed to help youth look beyond their disability and see that they can do anything they put their mind to; to try things that they do not think they can accomplish and succeed. Activities are planned with each group’s abilities in mind so that everyone will succeed.

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Service Projects

Camptown can customize a service project for any group. Whether interested in an environmental project such as removing invasive plant species, trail construction, maintenance or are looking to help people within the community by sorting clothing or providing services to people in need, Camptown can provide all of the planning and transportation. Their team helps you to enable youth to better serve their communities and become good citizens.

Youth Leader Adventures

Camptown’s Youth Leader Adventures program is designed for youth who choose to further develop their leadership, decision making and professional skills. This program exposes youth to recreational activities, professional development opportunities, and leadership experiences. These young leaders receive specific training in areas such as Leave no Trace Outdoor Ethics, Leadership, and backcountry camping skills — training that will last them a lifetime.

Upcoming Events

One event to keep on your radar for 2023 is Camptown’s Annual Dinner & Silent Auction, scheduled for November 15th, 2023 at the Heirloom downtown. This is a crucial fundraising event for Camptown each year. Proceeds from this fun evening support purposeful adventures in the outdoors for youth in Indianapolis. Over 90% of participants in 2021 received financial assistance to attend a program with Camptown, and they are looking to grow their impact to serve more youth in 2022.

Support Camptown

You can donate to help support Camptown online.

You can also become a monthly giver to the Camptown CORE to support Camptown’s efforts.

You can go the route of custom giving, to create your own event or activity to support Camptown — raise money for any event or even a non-event and make a real-life impact. Use our GoFundMe Charity Page to share your event with family & friends and ask them to contribute to your cause. Have another idea? Camptown wants to hear about it! Be creative! They’ve seen some amazing ideas and want to see even more — utilizing donations as birthday gifts, collecting sponsorships for an upcoming marathon or similar event, playing 100 holes of golf in a day to raise sponsorships, honoring someone through a tribute or memorial, and more. Sky’s the limit in terms of ways you can create meaningful support through custom giving at Camptown.