As an integral part of the program of the Elmwood Presbyterian Church youth ministry in Syracuse, NY Jim Welch started a Day Camp. It operated for a one two-week term, and the Resident Camp operated for one week at the presbytery-owned Vandercamp. The entire staff was made up of volunteer adults and college students.
Jim Welch moved to Pittsburgh, PA and expanded the Day Camp to the Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church (FCPC). The resident camp used Pittsburgh Presbytery’s Camp Fairfield (now Antiochian Village) near Ligonier, Pennsylvania and accepted two inner-city campers, predominantly from Pittsburgh, in each term.
Presbyterian Life, the official magazine of the Presbyterian Church, USA, interviewed a young camper who commented that his time at camp was the “best two weeks of the summer.” Their August issue titled the article, “Summer’s Best Two Weeks.” The name fit…and it stuck.
First National City Bank was renamed Citibank, N.A. and inspired Jim Welch to adopt the name Citikidz to refer to the urban campers from Pittsburgh.
Lake Gloria Camp (LG) – the camp purchased and developed the 140-acre site in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania, and provided a 1-week camping experience for urban youth from Pittsburgh. This facility now hosts 1,500 campers ages 8-18 over 5 terms each summer.
Kanakuk Kamps builds the first Kids Across America (KAA) Kamp designated to serving urban youth, and engages conversations with SB2W and urban youth leaders to establish an urban resident camp on the east coast.
SB2W partnered with KAA to operate one full week of urban campers at the end of the traditional camp season on the Lake Gloria property.
Timotheus Pope served as a counselor at SB2W Lake Gloria and for the Citikidz session, as well as joined Kids Across America as an intern with the plan of returning to SB2W to expand Citikidz. At that time, Thomas J. Usher retired from US Steel Corporation.
After serving for a year with Kids Across America, Timotheus Pope was hired as the first minority on the full-time staff of SB2W to serve as the director of the Citikidz, providing dedicated leadership to the growing ministry.
Due to demand, SB2Dub Citikidz expanded to YMCA Camp T. Frank Soles. We operated one week of training and three one-week sessions. As the program built a solid network of inner city relationships and the numbers of campers have grown, we prayed earnestly for a full time facility for Citikidz.
On October 5, 2012, Laurel Mountain Christian Camp was graciously gifted to SB2W by Tom and Sandy Usher. LMCC is a beautiful 130 acre camp located in Rector Pennsylvania, in the heart of the Laurel Highlands. Citikidz at LMCC ran three weeks in the summer of 2012.
With the continual effort to provide justice and equity, in July of 2019, Luisa Huertas, former Citikidz summer staff and graduate of Penn State University transitioned employment from Vanguard Financial Services to become the first female of color, first Hispanic, and first internationally born employee at Citikidz.
On Tuesday, November 17, 2020, the board of Christian Camps of Pittsburgh, Inc and the trustees of Thomas and Sandra Usher Youth Camp voted to restructure the TSUYC board to provide autonomy of oversight for Citikidz.
On Thursday, November 28, 2021, contemporaneously with the restructure of the TSUYC board, the trustees of Thomas and Sandra Usher Youth Camp, resigned their positions to provide autonomy of oversight for Citikidz. The first board members were:
Pastor Jimmie D. Compton, Jr of Hope Bible Fellowship in Detroit, MI – Chairman
Pastor Christopher M. Johnson, D.Min of Divine Unity Community Church in Harrisonburg, VA
Megan E. Wilson of the Cleveland Founding in Cleveland, OH
Jessica E. Ugwu, M.D. of Family Practice Medicine
Arthur N. Moats III, retiree of the NFL in Pittsburgh, PA
Carmelena M. Moffa of IBM in Armonk, NY
Edward J. Grefenstette of the Dietrich Foundation in Pittsburgh, PA
This facility is now a summer home to 600 campers ages 8-18 and 80 small “k” kaleos over 7 sessions each summer, the offseason home for strategic partners engaged in redemptive business, and the future home of Citikidz University students. All who come will continue experience authentic relationship with Christ and revolutionize their communities.