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When “Mark’s” family learned about Camp Good Sam at San Antonio – North East, they were thrilled about the opportunity it could provide for their son over the summer. As a rising 8th grader with autism, Mark was an incredibly high achiever who tended to be overly concerned with his academic performance.

Camp Good Sam is a youth development program at San Antonio’s Good Samaritan Community Services, a United Way nonprofit partner. Many times youth lack access to learning opportunities during the summer and fall further behind their peers every day. Camp Good Sam is a six-week summer program designed to keep minds learning during the summer months to avoid the “summer slide.”

Mark began Camp Good Sam this past summer with little confidence and was focused solely on his own achievements. He quickly became engrossed in the program activities and developed a love for the field trips, college tours, guest speakers, service projects, and the Percy Jackson series. With his natural drive to perform highly, Mark finished all five books in the Percy Jackson series in just one week. To keep Paul engaged, staff gave him the three-novel Kane Chronicles series, which he also  finished over the summer.

Mark’s father expressed, “It is a struggle for us to get Mark away from his tendency to be inwardly focused on achievement. When Mark served at the San Antonio Food Bank with Good Sam, he gained an understanding and appreciation for stepping outside himself and becoming a part of a wider community. The opportunity taught him that there is a bigger world around him and awakened a desire to help others.”

Camp Good Sam provided a way for Mark to flourish without the pressure and stress that limits him during the school year. He is more confident than he’s ever been and now has a platform from which to say to himself, “I can do this. I can achieve the goals I set for myself.”

Good Samaritan Community Services is a catalyst for change, supporting youth, individuals, and families by providing excellent community services to overcome economic poverty. Services include a child development program, afterschool and summer youth enrichment programs, a college readiness program, family services, and the only nationally accredited senior center in South Texas.