Local youth camp awarded grant from Lilly Endowment


BROWNSTOWN — Pyoca Camp and Retreat Center Inc. recently was awarded a $451,505 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. that will help launch a new day camp program for local youth.

“We are immensely grateful to Lilly Endowment for their generous support of our vision to create a day camp program that will serve local youth,” said Mike Davis, executive director at Pyoca Camp and Retreat Center in Brownstown.

Davis said the camp found out about the grant through the Indiana Youth Institute. The organization hosted information sessions and provided technical assistance to grant applicants throughout the application period.

The program is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Strengthening Youth Programs in Indiana initiative. The purpose of this initiative is to help youth-serving organizations working throughout Indiana improve their abilities to promote the academic, physical and social well-being of young people ages 5 through 18.

Pyoca has been providing outdoor experiences and fostering personal growth for generations of young people.

“We are always seeking ways to serve our local community, and this will enable us to do that in a meaningful way, working with community partners to provide a positive and transformative experience tailored to our local youth, helping them build character, develop leadership skills and forge lasting friendships while connecting with the outdoors,” Davis said.

The grant will enable Pyoca to create and sustain a day camp program that will offer a wide range of activities.

These activities include outdoor adventures, such as hiking, rock climbing, canoeing and exploring the natural surroundings of Pyoca and the Jackson-Washington State Forest, leadership development and team-building exercises to enhance interpersonal skills and self-confidence, hands-on learning experiences that foster an appreciation for the environment and sustainability, creative activities that encourage self-expression and imagination and activities focused on resilience, mental health and personal development.

“When I found out we were award the grant, I felt incredibly thankful,” Davis said. “We knew we had a strong application with backing from some key community partners, but there were no guarantees, as this was a competitive grant open to organizations across the entire state. I remain thankful for the opportunity, and our team is ready to work alongside the community members to bring the vision into reality.”

Pyoca is one of 187 organizations receiving grants through Strengthening Youth Programs in Indiana.

“Indiana’s youth-serving organizations are crucial to the healthy development of children and youth across the state,” said Ted Maple, Lilly Endowment’s vice president of education. “The challenges these organizations have faced in meeting the needs of young people in recent years have made their work increasingly difficult. Lilly Endowment is pleased to support their efforts to strengthen programs and serve more youth more effectively.”

Lilly Endowment launched the initiative in 2022 with an invitational round of grants to nine national youth-serving organizations to help them expand and enhance the work of their Indiana affiliates or chapters.

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