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New Camp in Custer is Partial Relief for Limited Summer Childcare Options

Grace Family Fellowship

Parents with school-aged children may have a hard time finding affordable ways to keep their kids safe and active during summer break. But a pastor in Custer is helping fill that need in his community with a new day camp.

Pastor Mike Brennan and his wife Monica have a long history of working with kids. They’ve fostered nearly 60 children over the last two decades and started free summer camps around the country through their organization Youth Evangelism Strategies.

This week, they’re starting another free summer camp for kids in the Custer area. The activities include games, storytelling, Bible lessons and free lunch. It sounds simple at first, but Brennan says it fills a unique need.

“There are different camps and different activities out there for kids in the summer time, but there’s a lot of families that quite frankly can’t afford to send their kids to an expensive summer camp,” says Brennan.

A 2018 report from the Center for American Progress shows 69% of children in Custer County have all parents in the workforce. Since tourism is one of the county’s major industries, Pastor Brennan says summers can be especially tricky for parents.

“So we know that a lot of the folks that work the tourist industry there, they have to make their money the quarter of the year that everybody’s here," he says. "This [camp] provides an opportunity for them to have a great safe place for their kids.”

As the new pastor of Grace Family Fellowship in Custer, Brennan recognizes filling this need is also a way to build positive relationships in the community. While this camp is based at the Custer armory and lasts until July 5th, Brennan hopes to have a separate property by next year. That way he can offer camps all summer long.