In January of 1997, three-year-old James Smith was waiting for his birthday haircut in a barber shop in West Baltimore. A gunfight began, when he was struck and killed by a stray bullet. Another Baltimore City child lost his childhood, his promise – his life. And his death was representative of the many children who are deprived of a safe and happy childhood.
This horrific killing was one of the reasons the Baltimore Children’s Peace Center was formed – while we cannot stop bullets or protect every child, we do what we can. We create safe, fun, enriching environments for children.
Over the years, the Baltimore Children’s Peace Center has grown and evolved as an organization. We now sponsor an annual 100-person, sleep-away camp – All God’s Children Camp – held at the Claggett Center in Buckeystown, Maryland. The camp, led by former Claggett Peace Camp camper Brendan McElroy, first welcomed a group of 15 young campers in 1995. Two years later, Brendan was joined by staff member Carey McKenzie as co-director. The two have directed the camp since that time, adding to its staff and programs over the years.
Among its many offerings, we are most proud of the camp’s Leadership Program. Our Junior Counselors – the majority of whom were previously campers – experience hands-on leadership experience in a unique and supportive environment. They not only learn new skills, but test their ability to organize, manage, and motivate their peers and the campers. They also receive mentoring and constructive feedback throughout the week.