American Water is committed to the communities we serve and are fortunate to partner with various programs that have a positive impact on those communities. While there are no favorites, there are a few programs that are doing good while having fun, such as the CAUSE Summer Camp program in Camden, NJ.
In December, American Water and the American Water Charitable Foundation (AWCF) announced a $40,000 donation to the Center for Aquatic Sciences. The Center, a non-profit organization on the Camden Waterfront, is a leader in environmental education bringing about awareness and appreciation of aquatic life and habitats through their positive engagement with youth and the community. The funding supported the 2022 Community and Urban Science Enrichment (CAUSE) Summer Camp program. This was the third year in row that American Water and the AWCF have supported the program — an honored and important tradition for all involved.
Let’s take a look at what makes this program, its camp and this year so special.
The CAUSE Program
The Community and Urban Science Enrichment (CAUSE) program, established by the Center for Aquatic Sciences at the Adventure Aquarium, is designed to celebrate the energy and creativity that Camden City teens bring to the mission of the center, while empowering them to become environmental and educational leaders in the community. Through experiential learning, modern workplace skill-building, fostering awareness and appreciation of science and science careers, life-long learning and community service, the program has benefitted the lives of many. In 29 years of operation, 100% of participants have graduated from high school, 99% of staff students enroll in college or continuing education opportunities, over 75% pursue a career in science or education, and 97% feel their horizons were broadened overall after participating in the program.
CAUSE participants commit about 50 hours a month to personal and professional development, animal handling and training, along with interacting with the community. Beginning in 8th grade and progressing over the next five years, the CAUSE program provides an additional, unique opportunity for participants in the form of the CAUSE Summer Camp. The annual camp is developed and implemented by the CAUSE Interns, with the help of Center Staff, for children grades K-6 in Camden City. The older students plan lessons, teach and interact with younger students, and help pass along the lessons they’ve learned through CAUSE.
Summer Camp 2022
We’re always proud to see the results of CAUSE’s extensive summer camp, and this year was no different. The CAUSE teens successfully wrote and delivered a curriculum centered on climate change and its impacts around the globe. Hosted by the Mastery Charter school system, they supplied space for teens to share fun, engaging activities and allowed the team to open the camp to students from across Camden. Every day brought a wide variety of campers who got to enjoy a myriad of fun activities.
When asked for their favorite memory from this year’s camp, many of the teens recalled the skits they performed as a fun way to tell a story connected to their curriculum. The teens loved dressing up in costumes and using props to get their message across. This year, they focused the skits on the journey of Drip, a water droplet that was trapped in a glacier. The character of Drip was used to help younger kids understand climate change, as Drip was freed from the ice due to warming temperatures and began his journey, traveling through waterways and eventually becoming potable water. They included how water from streams and rivers is filtered, treated and transported to homes for use by residents.
In addition to summer camp, CAUSE students worked at more than 20 different community and outreach events within Camden, allowing their students to interact with countless residents and organizations across the city. These events consisted of tree plantings, health fairs, kayaking programs, public fishing, and park/preserve cleanups.
American Water and the American Water Charitable Foundation are incredibly proud to partner with a program that encourages Camden residents, specifically young generations, to connect with the local environment. We’re excited for what the future holds for the CAUSE Program, summer camp and beyond.