LAKE LOGAN—The Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina is thrilled to announce the first-of-its-kind summer camp dedicated to empowering Latino youth through personal development and celebrating a rich cultural heritage. The camp is free and will take place July 23–28 in the fashion of Camp Henry with the theme “It Begins with Me.”
Latino Camp grew out of the work of former Camp Henry director Jessica LeFiles, the Rev. Oscar Rozo, native to Columbia, and his wife, the Rev. Liz Tester, who grew up attending Camp Henry. Through their dedication, the camp is offered completely free. LeFiles applied for grant funding from the National Episcopal Church and received donations from churches to help with costs.
“This is part of our ongoing work as a diocese to increase opportunities for Latino children and youth to experience the love of God. It has given me great joy to support the collaboration between Camp Henry and our Latino ministers,” said the Rt. Rev. José McLoughlin, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina.
All programming will be offered in both Spanish and English, and campers can enjoy an array of activities, including archery, boating, swimming, games, crafts, and much more. Parents are welcome to attend with their children.
“Even for folks who speak English well, especially from a spiritual aspect, it’s a deeper connection when you hear it in your native language,” LeFiles said.
Rozo and Tester will lead the camp, and Spanish-speaking Camp Henry staff will be there to help out. The team who has helped to put the camp together includes Eden Lewis (Lake Logan Interim Executive Director), Frank Townsend (Camp Henry Interim Camp Director), Maria Peres, Sadie McNair, and Cece Schmith (Camp Henry counselours), Charlotte Garcia (Interim Youth Coordinator for the diocese), The Rev. Miguel Alvarez (Regional Missioner for Latino Ministries,) Rebecca Shart and Ana Laura Gaspar (Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit in Mars Hill), and Jessica LeFiles.
“We want to talk about Latino roots and how they translate in the United States. Especially with immigrants like myself, I’m no longer fully Columbian because if I go to Columbia, I have a portion of the United States that I carry with me, and I’m not fully American because I’m Latino and have an accent, and so on. We are in this bubble, and it can be lonely. We need to pay attention to how we can empower our youth to value who they are, the culture that they came from, and the culture they are receiving here,” Rozo said.
Latino Camp presents a unique opportunity for Latino youth to connect with their cultural heritage, nurture personal growth, and form lifelong friendships in a supportive community. Interested individuals should email email@example.com or Rozo at firstname.lastname@example.org to register or learn more.
“We are so thankful to St.Phillip’s in Brevard for helping to fund a big piece of this. Our hope is to set up a fund to cover future camps and programming like this,” LeFiles said.
About Latino Camp:
Latino Camp is an immersive summer camp experience dedicated to empowering Latino youth through personal development and cultural celebration. Led by Columbia native, the Rev. Oscar Rozo, Rector of Epiphany Episcopal Church in Newton, the camp provides a transformative journey for young individuals and their parents. Inspired by the vision of former Camp Henry director Jessica LeFiles, Latino Camp aims to create a safe space for the Latino community to experience summer camp. The camp is funded with support from St. Philip's in Brevard and The Episcopal Church and offers activities, workshops, and programming in Spanish to foster cultural pride and personal growth. Camp Henry is a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina. For more information and registration, visit lakelogan.org/camphenry.