Boys & Girls Club of Cape Girardeau provides children with programming that encourages them to participate in the democratic process and become the future leaders of the world. Club programs develop leadership potential and target community-based activities to help participants learn and grow. Through working at bake sales, volunteering on service days, and attending zoo field trips, young participants can gain a connection with and respect for their community, enhancing their communication skills and self-esteem. The organization also works with youth to establish strong education and career goals, teach them about financial success, and improve their academic abilities through tutoring and cognitively challenging games
Encompassing 983 acres in the Shawnee National Forest, Camp Ondessonk has championed kids’ fun, teamwork, and confidence-building since 1959. An emphasis on the outdoors, including open-air cabins and lake- and creek-swimming, encourages campers to trade concrete mindsets for more sylvan psyches. The one-week coed session, which runs from July 31 to August 6, packs a range of arcadian activities into youthful schedules, including two horseback rides, archery and riflery practice, canoeing, and an overnight campout under smogless, star-flecked skies (with gender-specific sleeping arrangements). Tenderfeet seeking to bolster their survival skills learn knots and lashings, how to build one-match fires, and the proper method for skinning and roasting wild marshmallows.
Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary, a USDA–approved big-cat rescue facility, plays motherly host to a roaring family composed of five tigers and a lone lioness with a sultry swagger. Adopting philanthropists can align with their striped or unstriped spirit animal, choosing from noble felines such as the elder Mohan—a white male tiger with blue eyes, a pink nose, and a natural screen presence—or Raja—the relentlessly caring mother of sisters Gracie and Thor.
While childhood obesity is a topic that receives widespread attention, registered nurse Jean Huelsing uncovered a facet of the issue that many have overlooked: Some of the very "fat camps" designed to help overweight kids slim down were actually part of the problem. She takes issue with these camps’ short-term approach, as they rely on fast-acting diets rather than instilling healthier lifestyle habits. Striving to succeed where other camps failed, Jean started Camp Jump Start in 2003 and, just three years and a score of happy campers later, founded The Living Well Foundation to extend the reach of her holistic-wellness principles.
The organization now hosts a wide range of camps for adults and children alike. They’re held at Living Well Village, which occupies 250 acres in the woods, where campers can develop a love for active pastimes through outdoor activities, such as navigating ropes courses, fishing, and juggling beavers.
Working as a pediatrician in 2004, Dr. Joe Cangas noticed that many local children didn’t wear helmets while riding their bicycles. Concerned for their safety, he began talking to children at local schools and founded Helmets First! as his mission grew. As the Helmet Doctor, he conducts regular talks at neighborhood schools, clubs, and community centers, teaching youth about the importance of wearing helmets. His organization also runs events where it distributes free helmets to youth from low-income backgrounds after measuring their heads for the proper fit. Only with a proper fit are helmets effective at preventing traumatic head injuries. Since its inception, Helmet First! has donated more than 14,000 helmets to local youth.
Fire. Hammers. A pottery wheel. Some of humanity’s most elemental and primitive tools, yet into the 21st century they remain. And Craft Alliance Program Director Susan Donahue Yates attests that they’re some of the coolest. With each season’s catalog of classes, some of the most popular, according to Yates, let students play with fire, hammer metal into jewelry, or shape a lump of clay into something as fundamentally beautiful as a baby seal mimicking the Mona Lisa’s wry smirk.
At Craft Alliance, the focus is art in all its forms. Whether the tool is the raw flame fusing cut copper or a Mac loaded with Photoshop image-editing software, the intention to inspire and to create remains the same. Its two locations schedule seasonal terms with four- to six-week classes, as well as intensive workshops and children’s classes. Guiding each student along his or her adventure, skilled faculty instruct from experience. Most are working artists who exhibit their work and who have reaped their experience from the trenches of the art world.
Craft Alliance is not just empowering people with knowledge; they are also helping people make mugs, bowls, wooden spinning tops, rings, rugs, and digital photo albums. Many of these things are practical and serve a functional purpose. But many do not—they’re just beautiful things, like vestigial tails. A good number of these pieces are created by hand and are meant to remind us, as Yates remarked, that everyone can do something different from their everyday, workaday lives by adding beauty to a world that truly needs it.
The student and faculty artists backbone the Craft Alliance community, which in 2014 celebrates its 50th anniversary. The Grand Center location represents a regeneration of an arts district already pillared by the Fabulous Fox Theatre, Powell Symphony Hall, and St. Louis University.