Camp Homeward Bound

Homelessness influences every facet of a child's life. Missed meals, excessive absenteeism from school, separation from friends and family, adopting the anger and frustration of parents, and constantly moving from shelter to shelter wreak havoc on a young child's mind and body. As a result, homeless girls and boys fall behind academically, and experience a higher rate of psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression or withdrawal, or aggressive or lethargic behavior than children in stable housing.

Through Camp Homeward Bound, the nation's first summer sleep-away camp designed specifically for homeless children, the Coalition provides healing, mentorship, and empowerment. Instead of spending the crucial out-of-school summer hours in unsupervised and potentially dangerous homeless shelters, or even worse, on the streets, we help homeless girls and boys build character, develop educational and social skills, learn to handle conflict in healthy and productive ways, and ultimately reclaim their childhood.

Every summer since 1984, we have rescued hundreds of boys and girls who live in New York City's shelter system and brought them upstate for a life-changing learning experience. While the serene environment of Harriman State Park provides homeless children with a welcome respite from shelter life, Camp Homeward Bound's strong academic component helps address their specific educational deficits. Campers learn literacy skills; explore the world of science and computers; create art and music; and participate in a wide array of recreational activities that encourage teamwork, responsibility, self-expression, and social interaction. Throughout all activities, we emphasize participation, rather than winning, and aim to strengthen self-esteem and resilience.

Watch this video about Camp here!


Camp Homeward Bound serves homeless and formerly homeless children ages 7 to 15. Due to the nature of homelessness, most campers are new to Camp each year. However, many of our campers return for several summers, and some have continued on to become counselors. Camp Homeward Bound does not automatically exclude children with physical or emotional problems. All campers go through a screening and registration process to assess their needs and determine if our program is appropriate for them.


Camp Homeward Bound is looking for volunteers for our Camp Clean Up Crew. To be a part of the Camp Clean Up Crew means that you will come up to our camp site to help get camp ready. To sign up and get more details, email Bev McEntarfer, or call 212-776-2020.


Camp Homeward Bound staff comes from all over the country and the world, bringing with them their unique cultures and experiences to share. Staff members live and work together for approximately 10 weeks each summer, building lasting friendships, learning valuable skills, and creating unforgettable memories. Staff members are prepared through an intensive week of training as well as ongoing supervision to help them properly respond to the needs of our campers and to aid in their development and growth as mentors and teachers.

To learn more about the staff experience or becoming a staff member, click here.

To download the application form in PDF format, click here.

To download a reference form, click here.
(You will need to submit three reference forms in order to complete your application.)

For more information about Camp Homeward Bound, including applying for the next summer camp season, please contact Beverly McEntarfer at or call 212-776-2020.




Jesse hasn't had a perfect life. Last year, the ten-year-old boy and his mother fled his abusive father and started living in a Bronx shelter for victims of domestic violence. He missed over two months of school during the transition, and although Jesse eventually enrolled in a new school, he never fully caught up. He also didn't make any new friends, mostly because he was too embarrassed about his homelessness to open up to his classmates.

When Jesse arrived at Camp Homeward Bound this past summer, he was quiet and reserved. The first few days he shied away from our counselors and from the other campers. By the end of the first week, however, Jesse let his guard down. Maybe it was the constant encouragement he received from his bunk counselor. Or the pride he felt making a model volcano. Maybe it was the home cooked hearty meals served in the dining hall, or the perfect scary story shared around the campfire. Whatever the reason, Jesse ultimately thrived at Camp, learning new skills and making new friends.

His mother has noticed a change in Jesse too. His self-confidence has increased markedly. When he returned to school in September, he asked to join the after-school program, so he could be with the friends he had made over the summer. His grades also started to improve. Camp Homeward Bound not only helped Jesse reclaim his childhood, but also started him down a path to lifelong success.