About Scottie’s Place
The Scottie’s Place Story
In 1993, Founders Jo-El Wadsworth and Paul Winter met Scottie. Scottie was eight years old and living with his parents and baby brother in a van in a national forest. Scottie and his family were homeless. Scottie’s father worked as a day laborer in nearby towns. Scottie owned one book, which he clung to – a children’s bible that he could not read.
At that time, Jo-El and Paul were unaware that children were experiencing homelessness in the United States. They found that while many organizations and public figures were working to end homelessness, few efforts addressed the special needs of the children. The National Coalition for the Homeless states that, “Homelessness today is not just a housing issue, it is an education issue, a children’s issue and a family issue. Attempts to break the cycle that do not address these facts are destined to fail.”
In 1999, Jo-El and Paul opened Scottie’s Place with the mission to empower and educate the most vulnerable children in our communities. Scottie’s Place was the first year-round, special-needs camp in the United States for children affected by homelessness. Since then, Scottie’s Place has served over five hundred children from homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters and impoverished families, providing residential and day camp programs to children in five states and Washington, DC. Scottie’s Place has become a local and national resource for children in need and has brought hope and healing to hundreds of children in crisis.
In 2012, Scottie’s Place launched the Vulnerable Scholars Program (VSP), a global initiative that takes best practices from its work with highly disadvantaged children in the US and applies this knowledge and experience to academic leadership programs for refugee girls in regions around the world. The mission of the Vulnerable Scholars Program is to promote the next generation of women leaders in war-affected populations by providing individualized support and mentoring, and access to quality education, for high-achieving girls.
Modeled after college preparatory programs in the US, VSP will provide academic training in preparation for higher education, combined with long-term career guidance from an international network of professionals. By developing the talents of high-potential girls from refugee populations, VSP will ensure that participants have the skills and support to play a leading role in the reconstruction and peace building of their communities.
Scottie’s Place Programs
Wilderness Adventure & Weekend Programming
Nestled in the mountains of West Virginia, Scottie’s Place offers a unique camp for children whose lives have been disrupted by poverty and homelessness. It is a refuge from hardship and struggle – a place where children climb mountains, breathe fresh air, watch for deer and falling stars. It is an old-fashioned kind of place, a warm and nurturing homestead offering children a sense of belonging, and immersion in the natural world. Scottie’s Place teaches life skills – how to survive in the wilderness, how to thrive in society. Scottie’s Place touches the imaginations of children and inspires hopes and dreams for a future they can control. It is a camp for wounded children to experience wilderness adventure and inner healing. Learn more…
Leadership, Education, & Empowerment Program
With expanding conflicts in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, increasing numbers of individuals and families are forced to flee their homes for the safety of refugee camps. The reality is that children and adults are then confined indefinitely to these camps, their lives threatened by extreme poverty and ongoing conflict. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that 3.5 million people worldwide live within the confines of refugee camps. Of these, 80% are women and children, most of whom have been restricted to the camps for years.
The aim of LEEP is to empower young refugee women and girls with the knowledge and skills to transform the upheaval of their youth into positive change for their communities and the world. Scottie’s Place is currently partnering with UNHCR and education providers to implement programs for students in refugee camps in Kenya and Botswana. Learn more…