About Us

What We Are All About…

The program creates the opportunity for youth instruction and socialization through field trips, classes in literacy, dance, drama, arts and crafts, and character enrichment.

Our intent is to engage youth between the ages of 5 – 13 in a blend of cultural, academic, and enrichment activities that will keep the minds of the children stimulated. Designed to introduce inner-city youth to an enriched and diverse curriculum during the summer months, HFKC provides the children with structured educational activities.

At the conclusion of the program, we have a culminating ceremony that showcases the talents and skills learned in the areas of arts and crafts, music, drama, dance, and literacy.

  • Generally we have at least 3 field trips during camp. We have gone to such places as Mystic Aquarium, Connecticut Children’s Museum, Dinosaur State Park, Dinosaur Crossing, CT Historical Society, Chevrolet Theater, Imagine Nation Museum, Ocean Beach, Basketball Hall of Fame, Mashantucket Pequot Museum, CT Science Center, Jump N Jammin’, Lake Quassy and to encourage anytime reading, we go to the Public Library.

What We Believe

by Clara and Richard Ruffin
(Founders of the Hartford Friendship Kids’ Camp)

We believe we are making a substantial almost immeasurable difference in the community through our selfless service.

We believe with all our hearts that we as a staff of professionals are grooming our campers to be confident, self-assured individuals who will one day give back to the community.

We believe that we are planting valuable seeds of character That will produce a bountiful harvest that will benefit others..

We believe our staff gives the best of who they are and the skills they possess to help the children.

We believe staff members will grow in their giftedness and that doors of opportunities will open for them because of their good work.

We believe we learn from our mistakes and this, in turn, makes the camp better.

We believe our partnerships are significant and working with others enables us to enrich this town, this state, and ultimately this world.

We believe the work we do is bigger than we are.


The Hartford Friendship Kids’ Camp was founded by two educators, Richard and Clara Ruffin, in an effort to provide quality summer care for children between the ages of 5-13. This summer camp was created in response to a need observed in the community, discussed and lamented in the schools, and editorialized in the Hartford Courant. The camp has served a community need for 13 -14 years. The program offers children from Hartford and East Hartford high quality oversight, as the children are challenged to learn new things and form new friendships. Furthermore, the summer camp introduces this group of underserved youth to a variety of enrichment activities, structured curriculum and exercises.


About Mr. & Mrs. Ruffin

Mr. Richard Ruffin received his BA degree from Virginia Union University and his Master’s Degree from Virginia State University. He taught in the public-school system a total of over 35 years. Professionally, he was twice named to Who’s Who Among American Teachers. Mrs. Clara Ruffin received her BA from Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, MS, and her Master’s degree from Central CT State University.  She taught in the public schools for 33 years. Mrs. Ruffin was named National Educator of the Year by a 7,000-member organization in 1998 and was also named to Who’s Who Among American Teachers.

In 2004, the Ruffins founded the Hartford Friendship Kids’ Camp, a summer day camp for inner city youth ages 5 – 13. Prior to that, they cofounded the Ministry of the Open Door, a community outreach.

Richard Ruffin is a man of integrity.  He is tireless and absolutely devoted to his family, profession and ministry. He is as steady as the Rock of Gibraltar and as calming as a gentle breeze. He is a stable man of quiet strength.  Part of his strength is reflected in his acceptance of people for who they are. He serves as an example and father figure to many.

Clara Ruffin has marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and prayed with several notables, such as Astronaut Jim Irwin who drove a jeep on the moon, Ruby Bridges, the first African-American child to attend an all-white public elementary school in the American South, and with Communist soldiers.

She has written five books of mostly poetry and her poems have appeared in national magazines. In October 2013, she launched a specialty card company called Clara-fying Love.

Their travels have taken (either one or both of) them to Mexico, France, China, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Canada, the Bahamas, Jamaica and Israel.

The Ruffins have two adult sons: Dr. Richard Ruffin, Jr. and Dr. Vernon Alexander Ruffin, Ph.D. They’ve been blessed with four grandchildren: Aaron, Kayla, Reese and Malcolm Ruffin. Richard and Clara Ruffin reside in Hartford.

  • 2002 – Humanitarian Award by the Black Business and Professional Women
  • 2013 – 100 Men of Color
  • 2016 – 100 Woman of Color
  • 2017 – Ebenezer D. Bassett Humanitarian Award
  • 2019 – Community Knight Award given by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority
  • 2019 – Jumoke Academy Charter School Community Award

Visit Our Photo Gallery

Click here to view our photos from previous camp seasons.