A Community Staple, Student-Run Camp Enjoys Successful Fourth Year

July 29, 2016—A few weeks before classes start, you might expect students to be sitting poolside, catching up on their favorite Netflix TV series, or sleeping late while they still can. But for the last four years, incoming first and second-year Georgetown School of Medicine students forgo the typical summer break to plan and run a sports camp for homeless children living in the DC General Family Shelter.

The HoyaMed Summer Sports Camp took place July 25-29 on a wide field near RFK Stadium. Campers enjoyed fun games like red light, green light and freeze tag, participated in a competitive field day and rubbed elbows with DC athletes.

A Symbiotic Relationship

While Georgetown medical students, in the true Hoya spirit of “women and men for others,”are performing a service for the campers, this camp’s director, Elizabeth Zolper (M’19), says she and the other medical students benefit equally from the experience.

“I think sports camp is a great way to start a new year for both the incoming M1s and M2s. Working with children from the DC General Shelter provides a great perspective and a reminder that life extends way beyond the Georgetown bubble,” she said.

Meanwhile, the campers have fun participating in activities like three legged races and hula hooping, while forming relationships with medical students.

“I think the kids really enjoy getting to meet and play with the counselors, many of whom will return to DC General to participate in programs such as Big Hoya Little Saxa,” said Zolper, describing a mentorship program under the HOYA Clinic auspices.

Exciting Visitors

Campers were treated to pep talks from several special guests.  On the first day of camp, three Georgetown basketball players dropped by to take questions about their lives as college athletes, but they didn’t miss the chance to extol the values of hard work and staying in school.

“I came from a really small town and moving to a big city like Washington was an adjustment,” said sophomore Kaleb Johnson. “But I wanted to let them know no matter where you can from, if you just work hard and study, you can do anything in the world you want.”

Later in the week, player from DC United soccer team joined in the fun.

“I think the campers have a lot of fun. But they also get the chance to meet inspiring figures in the community and learn about the opportunities hard work can provide whether it be through sports or another avenue,” said Zolper.

Community Support

Providing campers with breakfast was a camp leadership goal this year. Thanks to donations from Bethesda Bagels, Bruegger’s Bagels, Trader Joe’s and The Corp, counselors were able to provide bagels, muffins, watermelon and orange slices to the kids every day.

Other donations came from Dahlgren Memorial Library, the Georgetown basketball team, DC United, Dean Stephen Ray Mitchell and the Office of Student Affairs.

Zolper is grateful for the support.

“Being a counselor at sports camp reminded me how truly privileged I am, not only to receive medical education at Georgetown, but to have the opportunity to serve the vibrant and diverse communities throughout DC.”

Leigh Ann Sham
GUMC Communications