Questions We Are Frequently Asked

Why is a mindful camping experience important for vulnerable children?
Research provides evidence that camp – a unique educational institution – is a positive force in youth development contributing to positive identity, social skills, physical and thinking skills, positive values and spirituality.

The Overall results suggest that a even a one-week stay at a well-organized camp each year, typically benefits children in the following ways:
- Children become more confident and experience increased self-esteem
- Children develop social skills that help them make friends and learn to develop relationships
- Children grow more independent and show more leadership qualities
- Children become more adventurous and willing to try new things

Source:“Youth Development of the Camp Experience” project conducted by Philliber Research Associates and the American Camp Association with support from Lilly Endowment Inc. (project administration: 2001-2004)

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How do you transform the lives of Guatemala’s children?

Most of our children have never experienced the natural beauty, rich culture or potential of their native land. Niños del Lago will give them a sense of pride in their country and their cultural heritage – and instill a sense of connection to a supportive community. Niños del Lago will provide a safe haven where they can dream of a life beyond poverty A place where role models and new experiences provide the motivation they need to succeed.

Why will children stay only one week at Niños del Lago each year and how can a one-week experience change the life of a child?
* Children come to us during their regular school year
* It is not common for a child to travel away from home
* By providing a one-week, annual mentoring experience for every child, when fully operational, we will have the capacity to receive and impact the lives of more than 3,000 children during our seven-month camp season.
* It is estimated that over a 10-year period, our program will have impacted the lives of more than 10,000 children.
* Research shows that only one week at a well organized camp can change a child’s perspective, attitude and self-esteem.

What happens when the child is no longer eligible to attend camp at Niños del Lago?

For the Niños del Lago ‘graduate’ who qualifies, but does not have access to other funding sources, after graduation from grade school, we will provide scholarship to attend junior and senior high school. After graduation from junior high school, we will provide scholarship for those who qualify to attend a trade school and for those who graduate from senior high school and qualify for university, we will support scholarship.

Are all the children who attend Niños del Lago poor and at-risk?

Yes, the children who you will serve will come to us via our La Cadena network of NGO partners – those who are providing education, housing, food and full or part care for the vulnerable children in many areas of western Guatemala.

What need does Niños del Lago fill that is not being filled by existing organizations?

Niños del Lago is designed to help transform the lives of Guatemala’s neediest children by providing an educational camp experience. Our goal is to help at-risk children stay in school and succeed in school.

Niños del Lago is designed to extend the work of overburdened orphanages, rural schools for indigenous youth and other institutions that are often unable to provide the motivational and inspirational support these children need to further their education and to aspire to productive roles within Guatemalan society.

How does Niños del Lago help at-risk children stay in school?

Niños del Lago offers healing and hope to children whose daily struggle for survival has robbed them of the ability to imagine a better future. Niños del Lago takes children out of their stressful and bleak surroundings and transports them to a safe, serene and creative environment for an intensive week of one-on-one mentoring, creative recreational activities and self-esteem building.

How can one week of camp change the life of a disadvantaged Guatemalan child?

The educational and recreational programs are based on research conducted with at-risk youth which have demonstrated that organized camp experiences help develop a child’s positive self-image and lead to improved attitudes, social skills and behavior.

Children who demonstrate promise and stay in their home school program are invited to return year after year, giving them an additional incentive to stay in school and off the streets.

How many children will be served by Niños del Lago?

When fully operational, Niños del Lago will receive 108 children every week for seven months of the year, serving over 3,000 children over a year’s time.

What is the program model for Niños del Lago? How will the program work?

The program provides one trained university mentor for every six children, encouraging an intensive mentor-child experience. The children (ages 7-11) begin in our program and they come to us from established orphanages, rural schools for indigenous youth and other institutions that shelter and educate Guatemala’s vulnerable children.

Why the focus on Guatemala?

Guatemala has the highest illiteracy rate in Latin America. Although the last five years show progress in school enrollment, school absenteeism and drop out rates are extremely high.

Why the focus on education for indigenous youth?

Education is one of the main factors that propel people out of poverty, yet indigenous peoples continue to have fewer years of education than non-indigenous ones.

What is your primary source of funding to date?

All of our funding to date has come from private donations, grants from Rotary International and Dutch foundations and donations from Coca-Cola, the employees of International Paper and Capgemini.

Who runs Niños del Lago?

Niños del Lago was founded by Arlaine Cervantes, a successful business owner and an entrepreneur in the fields of real estate development and hospitality.

Through a network of business contacts and clients, Arlaine assembled an experienced and dedicated team of professionals in Guatemala, the United States and Holland to support the planning, development and implementation of Niños del Lago. Arlaine and her team have also launched ancillary organizations to help build awareness of Ninos del Lago, and to help build a self-sustaining base of support.

Staffed with a group of volunteers from Guatemala, Central America, Europe and North America, Niños del Lago employs limited professional services where needed. Nearly all proceeds go to funding the camp.

How will Niños del Lago sustain itself?

Once construction is completed, and the camp is fully operational, during an annual three month period, Niños del Lago will open our doors for public events such as corporate retreats, seminars, conferences, concerts, family reunions, and we will receive other groups of children who will enjoy attending camp at Niños del Lago.

Is Niños del Lago affiliated with any governmental agencies? Niños del Lago is a tax exempt, not-for-profit organization registered in the United States, Guatemala and the Netherlands. We are not affiliated with any religious, political or government group or organization.