Camp Opportunity has been serving the children of Santa Cruz County since 1989.
Camp Opportunity was inspired by Bob Slassor after he attended a similar camp in Washington State. Bob was part of a church that owned a local conference grounds in Santa Cruz, and he believed that this location was the perfect place to provide this summer camp experience for children at risk of abuse or neglect in Santa Cruz County.
Bob contacted Family & Children’s Services of Santa Cruz County and began discussions of how to partner with the department to facilitate this camp. An agreement was reached that the County would be the primary referral source and that a staff member would attend as the camp social worker to ensure the safety and well-being of the campers. Camp would be free to all campers and all staff would be volunteers. Additionally, it was made clear that while the church would be a key member in the development and implementation of this camp, Camp Opportunity would not be a religious program. The program would focus on increasing self-esteem and helping children overcome challenges in their lives, in an environment where differences were celebrated and accepted.
After securing funds through local business owners, rotary clubs and private donations, the first camp was held in July of 1989 at the conference grounds in the hills of Santa Cruz County. For the first two years there was just one session, for ages 8-10, and approximately 40 children attended each summer. While the goal was to have each camper have their own individual counselor, for these first two years this was a challenge and some counselors had two campers each.
By the end of 1990, it was clear that enough funds had been raised to support two separate one-week sessions, expand the age limit and increase the total number of children served. Since 1991, Camp Opportunity has held two one-week sessions each summer, (ages 8-10 and 11-13) and has been able to accommodate 30-35 campers each session, each with their own individual counselor.