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SARATOGA SPRINGS — Caroline Baumis brings summer camp to kids who can’t get there on their own. This week, dozens of children of backstretch worker families are taking part in activities — from arts and crafts to painting and playground fun — at Camp Together Living a Challenge (TLC). The program is held at Pine Grove, a Christian camp setting on Pine Road off Grand Avenue — where many backstretch workers live during the racing season — in conjunction with the Racetrack Chaplaincy. “Parents feel at ease knowing their kids are here being cared for,” said Baumis, the Clifton Park native who started the initiative two years ago. This year alone, Camp TLC has served hundreds of kids, ages 5 to 15, from coast to coast by offering one-week programs at various locations. Supplies and equipment are transported by trailer. Earlier this summer in Los Angeles, kids living in shelters and foster homes attended a week-long camp. Other places Camp TLC has visited this year are Crossroads Family Shelter in Boston, Children’s Inn at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Md., and St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in Queens. “Every site is completely different,” Baumis said. “We partner with many different organizations.” Because she’s from Saratoga County, Baumis knows about the needs of backstretch workers and their children. “It’s important for me to give back to my community,” she said. If their smiles are any indication, children love every bit of it. “We played bingo, we get to paint,” said Fatima Garcia, 11, who’s heading into sixth grade. “This is my first time ever at a summer camp. It’s really awesome.” Javiera Munoz, 10, said, “I like just getting to be here with my friends and doing fun stuff. Plus, Caroline is so nice.” Ten-year-old Allanna Holley of New Jersey said the camp is helping her get reacquainted with friends she hasn’t seen since last year. “It’s fun, and we get to be in the outdoors,” she said. The cool, shady setting beneath tall trees also gives kids a respite from the summer’s heat and humidity. The week-long program runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. “Thursday is going to be ‘messy day,’ ” Baumis said. “We’re going to have fun with whipped cream and shaving cream.” On Wednesday, Kate Veitch of Saratoga Springs taught kids lessons about the ocean. She works at Eddie’s Aquarium Center in Latham and does educational outreach at area schools, and the camp presented a perfect learning opportunity. A handful of young boys got a hands-on experience with starfish. Camp TLC was originally founded in 2000 for children with HIV/AIDS. Thanks to medical advances, the program was no longer needed and was discontinued in 2008. However, Baumis, a licensed social worker, saw the need for a camp program that would help kids in all kinds of isolating circumstances — not just being infected with HIV/AIDS — such as living in hospitals, group homes and shelters. So she brought Camp TLC back to life last year and countless kids have already benefited. Camp TLC is funded by foundation grants and personal donations. Boyd Tinsley of the Dave Matthews Band has been a generous supporter, Baumis said. For more information about Camp TLC, go to


VIDEO: Camp TLC provides summer fun backstretch workers’ children

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