INDIANAPOLIS — School is out and Indianapolis youth are looking for something to do.
As such, Indy-based youth summer camp “Young Men Incorporated” began its 29th year of summer camp on Tuesday.
Thousands of youngsters have come through Reverend Malachi Walker’s church basement camp over the years.
Stephen McClain was one of them.
“As a third and a fourth grader, I was one of those individuals that was considered a troubled teen, or a troubled youth,” McClain said. “At the time, it was a whole different awakening moment for me just being here. It’s about respect. It’s about respecting your elders, more military base, more Christian faith-based. Just jumping in, it gave me self-respect. It gave me an opportunity just to see what this world could be, it gave me that opportunity.”
Every summer, Young Men Inc. takes in about 70 youth whose parents or adults in their lives fear idle hands could lead to trouble.
“This is one of the best summer opportunities in the entire city of Indianapolis,” Mayor Joe Hogsett told the campers to a round of applause.
Four times in the last month, throughout Marion County, young people have been shot in parks.
At least ten youngsters this year have lost their lives to gunfire.
Two of them, police believe, shot themselves with guns that adults left behind.
The YMI summer camp teaches discipline and life skills, along with personal safety and awareness for young people who may be confronted with bad choices or situations once they leave the church’s basement.
“It’s kind of surreal just coming back to those front doors and then walking down the stairs, hearing the same saying from when I was an 8, 9, and 10-year-old,” said McClain. “Hearing these young men say the same saying that I had over 20-plus years ago is surreal to me.
“I can’t tell you where I would be,” he continued. “I honestly think that with the ways things were going for me, I was following that school-to-prison pipeline. I think that without Young Men Inc., that might’ve been where I ended up. With the help of Young Men Inc. and Reverend Malachi Walker, I’ve become a successful football coach at Warren Central High School so I’ve been able to give back.”
Campers learn conflict resolution skills and the older mentors often participate in college campus visits at the end of the session.
The camp continues three days a week through August 6th at the Great Commission Church of God at 3302 North Arsenal Avenue.
For more information on the summer camp, call (317) 923-7690.