Camp named in honor of Junior giving kids from Bronx lasting memories

Marcus Solis Image
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
Camp named in honor of Junior giving kids lasting memories
The summer camp honors the teenage victim of gun violence while providing joy and hope for kids from the Bronx.

BRONX, New York (WABC) -- A summer camp named in honor of an innocent victim of gang violence is now open for the season in the Bronx.

The camp is named after Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz and is giving young people a chance to enjoy the outdoors and practice wellness activities.

The camp was created in the wake of a tragic event. It's meant to be an amazing experience and give kids and families from the Bronx a place to enjoy nature, swim in the lake and not worry about the mean streets.

Junior was brutally murdered in 2018. The 15-year-old was chased into a bodega then dragged out and stabbed to death by gang members who mistakenly thought he was a member of a rival gang.

His mother turned to city and state leaders to provide a safe space for Bronx youth and spare other mothers from her pain.

"This camp is very nice to bring all the kids from the Bronx to make them see the difference they can have with better options and opportunity," said Leandra Feliz.

Camp Junior sits on 47 acres in Harriman State Park and is run by the Fresh Air Fund.

During Camp Junior's first year, kids stayed for two weeks. During the COVID pandemic, families have come together to camp for a couple of nights.

"He's never been swimming in a lake and I've never been swimming in a lake, I never actually went to camp when I was younger, so it's my first experience doing this, it feels pretty cool," said Bronx resident Anaisha Rivera.

"My hope is that this provides a whole new opportunity of joy, but really hope, and also ideas and dreams, summer is about experiencing new things and every child should have that," said Fatima Shama, the executive director of the Fresh Air Fund.

The goal is to go back to a kids-only model next summer with an anti-violence component introduced to reinforce the idea of Camp Junior.

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