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Traci Carter lost his brother to gun violence in Philly, now he has started an organization to shield young men from Philly's violent events. Photo: anchorcamps.org
Traci Carter lost his brother to gun violence in Philly, now he has started an organization to shield young men from Philly's violent events. Photo: anchorcamps.org

Anchors Camp, the nonprofit shielding young men and boys from the streets of Philly

Traci Carter founded the organization in honor of his younger brother, Semaj, who died as a victim of gun violence in July 2020.

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Traci Carter, the co-founder at Anchors Camp, lost his younger brother, Semaj, in July 2020, while he walked home with friends after playing basketball.

The event left the elder Carter angry and regretful because he wanted to be there to protect his brother. It wasn’t until a beach trip to Ocean City, N.J., that he met Jimmy Newfrock, his future business partner and together, started something that would memorialize Semaj.

Carter and Newfrock decided to create an organization in his brother’s honor, known as Anchors Camp.

The nonprofit was founded in 2020, and is a camp experience for young men that need an escape from Philadelphia. To do that, the duo located Anchors Camp on a rural farm in Madison, N.Y., in an effort to give it a true camp feel.

Carter and Newfrock wanted to create a space for kids to learn skills and also expose them to different activities like horseback riding, hiking, fishing, and cookouts. Carter and his team of loyal coaches also take the kids on a tour to nearby Colgate University.

The camp focuses on teaching the children specific trades, such as plumbing, electrical work, carpentry, and mechanical work, while also developing true friendships among peers.

The goal of Anchors Camp, Carter told AP News, is to demonstrate career paths that don’t involve sports and entertainment — or drugs — but still lead to success.

“Philly, we’re the murder capital right now,” he told AP News. “I had to figure out something to do to make a change.”

Anchors Camp also provides a calming environment for young men to think about their futures, and show them the many opportunities they have.

Carter, who was also a basketball player at the University of Hartford in West Hartford, C.T., and graduated last May with a Masters degree in Communications.

He admits the quiet sounds on the farm and the fresh air encourages him to not sweat the small stuff in life. He said it even helped him become a better basketball player.

“It took a load off, a pressure off,” said Carter. “Once I began to figure out that my life does not solely depend on whether I’m successful on the court, my life started to change.”

Anchors Camp hopes to inspire more children to seek better opportunities.

In the past two years, Philadelphia has seen a major increase in gun violence. According to the city’s website, there have been 321 homicides in 2021, which is a 26% increase from 2020. 

As of Aug. 1, 2021, there were 1,079 nonfatal and 277 fatal shooting victims in the city. Around 88% of victims killed in Philadelphia’s gun violence are men, while 12% are women.

Earlier in the Summer, Philadelphia City Council approved a $155 million anti-violence budget, the largest sum of money to prevent violent deaths in the city.

However, there has not been an improvement regarding ongoing gun violence. Mayor Jim Kenney also refuses to declare the city’s violence a state of emergency. 

While Kenney refuses to acknowledge the string of violence as an emergency, local leaders in Philadelphia refuse to give up on the city they know and love.

For more information on Anchors Camp, visit its website.

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