BEAVERTON — Lauren Howerton, 13, has a gift for art. This year, the Valley Catholic eighth grader employed her expressive know-how to help her beloved summer camp.

COVID-19 foiled plans for Camp Howard, where Lauren and her older brother have been regulars for years. Lauren had planned this summer to enter Cougar Den, the highest level unit at the camp in the foothills of Mount Hood. She took her keen disappointment, added her creativity and came up with a plan — design Camp Howard sweatshirts, sell them to her friends and give the money to CYO/Camp Howard, the organization that runs the camp.

The office had returned camping and sports fees and was forced to lay off staff after federal business aid ran out.

With help from mom Erika, Lauren sold 20 sweatshirts to those who likely would have purchased a souvenir sweatshirt at camp, had camp happened. Nike, Intel and U.S. Bank gave matching funds based on family donations. It all added up to almost $2,200.

The white sweatshirts, gender neutral, are emblazoned with a circular design with two arrows and the name of the camp. The arrows have dual meaning — archery is Lauren’s favorite part of camp and she had a thrill using a compass to find her way during Outdoor School at Camp Howard. She realizes that Camp Howard also aims to help young people find a true path in life.

Lauren, who with family attends Holy Trinity Parish here, hopes to return to camp next year.

“It gives me an outlet to hang with my friends and meet new people,” she said of camp. “And the counselors are amazing and so charismatic. They make it so much fun.”

Lauren had never before made sweatshirts. In addition to the design, she did some marketing research, polling her friends on logo options. Families paid $60 apiece and the Howertons donated production costs.

“We want people to know how much Camp Howard means to our family and how important we think it is to our community,” said Erika.

Camp has had a powerful effect on her children, she adds.

“I’ve seen them grow more independent in a good way,” said Erika, who herself loves the outdoors. “They’ve learned leadership skills. They develop spiritually and learn how to make new friends. They come back each year a little more grown up.”

Lauren also is active in CYO basketball and track and realizes that the seasons have been scuttled. Now she plans to design a CYO sports sweatshirt.

edl@catholicsentinel.org