Send A Kid To Camp

May 16, 2023

Every summer, outstanding young people from across the country arrive in Aberdeen, Maryland for a magical week that creates a lifetime of memories. This month, we would like to highlight our Ripken Summer Camp and the amazing partners that help make it possible. Launched in 2006 in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Ripken Summer Camp is an all-expense paid, weeklong getaway where kids interact with their peers from around the country and learn valuable life lessons from trained coaches, mentors, and law enforcement officers. 

Thanks  to High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA), Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF), South Baltimore Gateway, Southwest Airlines and University of Maryland Medical System  for their help with transportation, facilities costs, equipment, and apparel, in 2022 we were able to send 218 youth and 60 mentors to the Ripken Summer Camp. Since its inception in 2006, we have been able to impact over 8,000 at-risk youth from across the U.S. NCEF Chief Executive Officer Maria Jimenez-Lara spoke more about our partnership and its impact. “We are proud to provide funding that allows for 40 well-deserving youth to attend the one-of-a-kind, weeklong Ripken Summer Camp. For many of these children, this Camp provides opportunities for personal development and growth while also learning teamwork, responsibility, and communication through a unique sports-led model,” said Jimenez-Lara. “This partnership with the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation is more than just a chance for our at-risk youth to venture from their hometown but enables them with the skills to positively change the trajectories of their lives.”

As the capstone of our Badges for Baseball program, youth not only enjoy an exciting week full of sports-related activities, but also, learn fundamental lessons like teamwork, personal responsibility, and communication that they can use both on and off the field. Carrie LeBow, Chief Operating Officer of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation gave some more insight into our program and why it is so impactful. “Today, we partner with over 397 community-based youth organizations, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore, to impact over 1.3 million at-risk youth in underserved communities each year. Our year-round youth development program transforms communities by engaging kids in a safe, healthy way while teaching them critical life skills like communication, respect, and resiliency which propel them to success on and off the field. Badges for Baseball also helps kids to build trusting, positive relationships with law enforcement officers in their local communities,” she explained.

Approximately 200 at-risk youth are selected to attend our all-expenses paid, weeklong Ripken Summer Camp  each year. During Camp, kids get to live in cabins and meet other youth from across the country. One camper said, “I got to sleep in a cabin with my friends and we talked and laughed all night long.” They learn baseball andcampers jumping softball skills, challenge themselves on a ropes course, climb a rock wall, fly across a zip line, and swim. Participants also get the opportunity to play baseball in a state-of-the-art Ripken Academy Ballpark. All of the activities and guest speakers provided help to reinforce important life lessons kids learn at their local youth development programs. 

Jazmine Dodson, a Youth Development Coordinator for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore, talked more about the experience during her time there. She said, “This was such an amazing experience seeing our members play and grow. A lot of the children have never even touched a bat before. It was great seeing their growth and seeing them work together as a team to better themselves. I really loved seeing the girls keep up with the boys even though some of them never even played sports before.”

Each day is closed out with an evening program where guest speakers instill some life lessons on our campers. At one of our past evening programs, Van Brooks spoke to our campers about how being a student athlete means you are just as much a student as you are an athlete, and not putting all your eggs in one basket.

Many campers that attend are not only flying for the first time, thanks to the E-passes provided by Southwest Airlines, but also are leaving their home state for the first time. “Thanks to you, I got to travel away from my home, and I love it,” said one grateful camper. Southwest Regional Manager of Community Outreach Melanie O’Brien spoke more about this amazing gift Southwest has provided these campers. “Southwest Airlines is grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and support Ripken Summer Camp by providing air travel for youth campers.  It’s inspiring to hear stories of campers, who months later, still talk about their Camp experience, how they flew on an airplane for the first time, learned how to throw a baseball, and met friends from across the country. We are thrilled to be able to bring them to Camp so they can learn the important and fundamental life lessons of teamwork, personal responsibility, and communication, essential skills that they can use both on and off the field,” said O’Brien. Along with free transportation to the Camp, thanks to partner support the kids also receive brand-new gear when they arrive. They are gifted with a backpack, baseball hat/visor, baseball glove, uniform shirts, athletic shorts, baseball pants, socks, and belt.Campers in Tank

Through collaboration with national law enforcement agencies, including U.S. Marshals Service and the Maryland National Guard, kids are able to participate in different exciting and interactive experiences. Each year, our law enforcement partners deliver presentations for the youth, including a mobile command center, police helicopter landing, and K-9 dogs and officers. In 2022, the Maryland State Police and PG County came to Camp. Past campers have also enjoyed meeting horses from the Baltimore Police and presentations from the Emergency Services Team, Marine Unit, and Aviation Unit from Prince George’s County Police.
When asked about the impact of having law enforcement officers as mentors, LeBow had this to say: “The positive, healthy relationship between police in urban and rural communities and at-risk young people is the beginning of real change in distressed neighborhoods across the country and serves as an early intervention opportunity to shape the personal trajectory and perceptions of youth faced with challenging obstacles to success in life”. David Lutz from the U.S. Marshall Service echoed this statement. “The program was designed to bring at-risk youth together with law enforcement and the military and local fire departments that have a positive experience outside of the regular duties of the job,” said Lutz.

Caring adult mentors are extremely important in shaping the lives of the at-risk youth we impact across the country. When asked what they love most about this experience, one camper said, “My favorite thing about Camp is all the mentors being really encouraging about us failing, even if we tried really hard.” These amazing law enforcement officers and mentors help us to positively impact youth from around the country and teach them fundamental life lessons. 

Through the generosity of our donors, our program partners are able to send deserving participants in our year-round youth development programs to Camp. Because many of the at-risk youth in our programs have never left their hometowns, their Camp experience with us is truly transformational, because it is not just about baseball. “Because of you, I was able to go to Camp this summer,” said a camper. Help us send deserving kids like this to Camp this summer by donating here.


  • Reach and Impact

    Reach & Impact

    In 2022, the Ripken Foundation collaborated with 597 local youth-serving partners and law enforcement agencies in 374 cities and towns in 46 states, Washington, D.C., and Canada to impact over 1.3 million at-risk youth. The Ripken Foundation Portal, which gives mentors access to our program curriculum guides, impacted 410,296 of those at-risk youth. In addition, we now have 305 STEM Centers completed in 20 states giving nearly 100,000 kids the early exposure and hands-on opportunity to explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

  • Mentoring


    In 2022, over 10,000 coaches, law enforcement officers, teachers, volunteers, and other youth mentors worked with the kids in our programs. Badges for Baseball, our signature crime prevention and mentoring program, impacted 31,121 kids in 111 communities.

  • Youth Development Parks

    Youth Development Parks

    We’re adding more of our signature Youth Development Parks every year—creating safe places to play and renewing community pride.

    ydp map


We love to hear how the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation has positively impacted the lives of our mentors and at-risk youth. If you have a positive experience with the Foundation that you would like to share, please submit a story. You might be featured below or on our social media outlets!

  • Ernie Graham

    I remember meeting Ernie Graham on the second day of the CRSF Summer Camp and listening to the story he told us about how he went from rags to riches to rags. I can honestly say that the summer camp was the reason I came back to school and decided to become a smart athlete.

    Cornell Powell
    Former Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation Summer Camp Participant
  • kids with cop shield

    The Badges for Baseball program was a 100% law enforcement participation program and the kids that participated were at-risk kids who would never speak or communicate with the police. That has changed drastically, these kids now run up to the police cruisers and they want to talk to the police.

    Sgt. Randy Shaw
    Stafford County, Virginia
  • kids playing quickball

    The Badges for Baseball program has yielded results that were unforeseen.  The relationships made will be lifelong and the Green Bay Police Department is eager to continue on with the program.

    Officer Kevin Warych
    Green Bay Police Department
  • kids, baseball glove on head

    This CRSF camp trip was packed with “first’s” for most of the members that joined me: it was the first time these members traveled out of state and for some, the first time at a baseball camp. Although the camp was loaded with memories, what stuck with my group of boys the most was the bonding they had with our roommates after all the activities were done.

    BJ Kolb
    Boys and Girls Club of Green Bay
  • kids with cops

    I can remember back to my first day in the Badges for Baseball program. The police officers were amazing, coming out to all the practices and games. They had a big influence on me, and because of them, I am now studying to become a police officer at Fox Valley Tech in Appleton, Wisconsin. It wouldn’t have been possible without Badges for Baseball. 

    Alex Steward
    Former Badges for Baseball Participant
  • cop with four kids

    I have seen students come out of their shells, they are answering questions, they are building relationships with police officers and it is a very positive program in the schools.

    Tricia Winkler
    Principal, Lima South Science-Technology Magnet
  • kids, joyous arms raised

    Although our gym can be quite chaotic during the Badges for Baseball program, it has been rewarding to see the kids practice sportsmanship and leadership during games. I've had multiple students ask me, ‘Can we come back every day?’ It's questions like those that make all the chaos worthwhile.

    Carrie Marsh
    Mentor, Y of Central Maryland
  • background
  • BGC Florida

  • Chesapeake Gateway

  • background
  • background
  • background
  • background
  • Gene Haas

  • background
  • background
  • Hobbs

  • background
  • background
  • Kidspark Education

  • John & Cindy Lee

  • LISC

  • Marathon Oil

  • background
  • MD Parks

  • background
  • background
  • background
  • background
  • background
  • background
  • Pat Tracey

  • 1peter

  • background
  • PSP

  • Scotts

  • background
  • Sphero

  • State of MD

  • background
  • background
  • background
  • background
  • background
  • Lewis Contractors

  • Baker

  • background
  • background
  • BCBS

  • Bisnov

  • Scott & Patrice Brickman

  • BSN

  • background
  • background
  • Don & Pat Kirk

  • Edgewater

  • background
  • Estelle Yates

  • background
  • background
  • Flogistix

  • background
  • HBK

  • Himmelman

  • background
  • J. Babe Stearn

  • Jefferson Montessori Academy

  • JoyLabz

  • Kirk Family Foundation

  • Lynch

  • Marshfield

  • background
  • mercyhurst

  • Miracle

  • background
  • MZI


  • background
  • Penn Hills

  • Quanta

  • background
  • RBC

  • background
  • background
  • TC Energy

  • background
  • UBS

  • background
  • Sarge Reynolds

  • Worthington

  • XTO